Although global economy growth has remained stagnant since the 2008 financial crisis, e-commerce, the completely new business infrastructure built on digital technology, is rapidly growing and extending the territory of the “new economy. In particular, e-commerce does not only drive growth but also distribute the resulting benefits more evenly to every section of society. To a certain extent, digital technology and e-commerce have fostered a new growth model – inclusive growth.
E-commerce has become a pillar of China’s economy instead of a supplement. By 2016, e-commerce sales has reached RMB 5.2 trillion, accounting for 15.5% of national retail sales; in particular, e-commerce sales of physical goods contributed to 3 percent out of 10.4 percent retail sales growth. Besides, e-commerce has created the new business norms and transformed the nation’s economic landscape. For example, cross-border e-commerce enables more than 3 billion internet users to buy/ sell globally at one simple click, which used to be dominated by large international traders.
China has also demonstrated how to use digital technology and e-commerce to drive inclusive growth.
• Cross-border e-commerce empowers SMEs with professional capabilities, which only big companies could acquire in the past, and provides SMEs with direct access to consumers across the globe.
• The greatest challenge for inclusive finance is to balance promoting inclusiveness and fulfilling responsibility of being profitable as a business organization. China’s experience is a showcase how to use digital-technology-driven and credit-system-based financial system to solve the challenge.
• E-commerce unleashes rural residents’ purchasing power and drives the development of the rural logistics system. Within 20 years, express delivery covers nearly 3,000 counties as well as rural area.
• Cloud computing redefines the landscape of information technology solutions. The on-demand and sharing nature of cloud computing provides an alternative inexpensive solution which promotes innovation and SMEs.
• E-commerce creates the new business norm for SMEs, which provides more innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people, lower cost/ investment and a brand-new service system.
• E-commerce is the key to narrow the urban-rural gap. Instead of providing monetary assistance, China leverages e-commerce to create a sustainable business model in rural area.
Unbalanced development has been the global challenge. The e-commerce experience in China is a good reference for other developing countries and regions in Asia, South America and Africa. First, government has the essential role in China’s successful story. Digital and internet infrastructure development has been one of China government’ top policy priorities and is the foundation for e-commerce development. In addition, the joint taskforce from multi-stakeholders (e.g. government, company, etc.) is the key to develop a sustainable and vibrant e-commerce ecosystem.
eWTP (Electronic World Trade Platform) is one of the most important enablers to fulfill the target of global inclusive growth. The eWTP would help SMEs overcome complex regulations, processes and barriers that hinder their participation in global commerce. An increasing amount of local, regional, national and international commerce is conducted on a variety of platforms on the Internet. This relatively new and comparatively frictionless method of conducting business on the digital platform can enable more countries, enterprises and entrepreneurs to participate in global trade and reap the benefits of globalization. The explosive worldwide growth of e-commerce is spawning new business models. It has the potential to spark fundamental changes in the way international trade is conducted by lowering costs, reducing and streamlining intermediaries, improving access to information and financing, and shortening global supply chains.