Geneva, 15 December 2016 – Policy makers in developing countries will be able to access cutting edge technical and financial assistance on e-commerce, when the eTrade for All launches its new web platform in April, an UNCTAD official said.
While global trade has been stagnant for several years, e-commerce has been growing rapidly, accelerating upwards from $16 trillion in 2013 to $22 trillion in 2015, and emerging as a powerful driver of economic growth, inclusive trade, and jobs.
The e-Trade for All initiative was launched in July 2016 by a consortium of international organisations, regional development banks, and national agencies, to support developing countries with seven key policy areas, ranging from strategy development to payment solutions and skills upgrading.
In November, the Internet Society (ISOC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) became the most recent institutions to join the Initiative. More are expected to come on board in the next few weeks.
“I’m delighted that the eTrade for All initiative is gathering pace. It is a potential game changer for employment in developing countries,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.
“E-commerce is like literacy,” he said. “Those who need it most do not yet understand its value.”
Key to the initiative is an online platform, which will make it easier for developing countries to navigate the supply of technical and financial assistance from partnering institutions. Developing countries will also benefit from the exchange of knowledge and information, and the sharing of best practices on e-commerce.
The initiative stresses the importance of implementing gender-sensitive projects. Its guidelines recognize that women and men often engage in business and e-commerce in different ways, and as such there is a necessity to ensure that the development of e-commerce is inclusive and accessible to all.
UNCTAD’s work on e-commerce for development is currently supported by Finland, Sweden, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.
“Access to the internet is estimated to have the potential to generate over $2.2 trillion in additional GDP and more than 140 million new jobs in the developing world,” the UK mission to the UN in Geneva said in a statement.
“This is why the UK supports UNCTAD playing a leading role in this field and we welcome the development of the ‘e-Trade for All’ project and look forward to seeing its implementation next year,” the statement said.
The online platform will be launched during the UNCTAD E-commerce Week, scheduled to run from 24 to 28 April 2017 in Geneva.
US Court Threatens Garrett Kelleher with contempt of court
Developer Garrett Kelleher has vowed to appeal the ruling of a US judge who warned that he was considering having the Irishman and two others prosecuted for contempt because of their involvement with a €60 million insurance claim.
Mr Kelleher invested $2.85 million in 2006 in the efforts of a group of Liberian businesses to enforce a $66.5 million judgment against US insurer Cigna Worldwide in return for a share of any proceeds.
The US district court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ordered the Irishman, and two lawyers, Martin Kenney and Samuel Lohman, who had been advising the Liberians, to appear before it on Wednesday for a hearing where the insurer sought $14.6 million in costs from them.
Mr Kelleher and Mr Kenney were represented at the hearing, but did not appear in person. They are challenging the court’s jurisdiction in the case.
At the hearing Judge Paul S Diamond said that he was considering referring all three men to the US attorney’s office for prosecution for criminal contempt of court.
The court barred Mr Lohman who did appear, from leaving its jurisdiction, the eastern district of Pennsylvania, and had his passport seized. It also allowed Cigna to begin discovery of the lawyer’s assets to establish if he has the means to pay any damages.
Following the hearing, Mr Kelleher pledged to appeal the decision all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary. He argued that the case was a “travesty of justice” for the Liberians, who have been pursuing their claim for 25 years.
“By the time I was approached to help fund this case a Liberian court had determined that Cigna had violated Liberian law by not maintaining funds in the country to meet local claims,” he said.
The case is rooted in the efforts of one group, Abi Jaoudi and Azar Trading (AJA), to enforce a claim against Cigna for damage to its property sustained during Liberia’s civil war in 1990. The company’s local subsidiary had insured the Liberian group’s premises, which starving civilians looted in search of food.
Cigna originally refused to pay out on a subsequent claim, but a jury in the Philadelphia court found in favor of the Liberians in the mid-1990s. However, the judge used a little-used power and over-ruled the jury to find in Cigna’s favor.
AJA then returned to its home country, where the courts upheld a claim for $66.5 million. The Liberian insurance commissioner subsequently took over the case, and he pursued ACE, which had taken over Cigna, in the Cayman Islands for the judgment.
However, in 2001 the US Company went to Philadelphia and got an injunction barring AJA from attempting to enforce the Liberian judgment. Last July, the Pennsylvania court found Mr Kelleher and the two lawyers were found to be in civil contempt for breach of this order.
Mr Kenney said on Wednesday that he was deeply disappointed that the court found reason to sanction him for his work on behalf of the Liberian clients, whom he said were seeking justice from a wealthy multinational insurance company.
“We have done nothing wrong in this case. We intend to use our rights to appeal this matter to the third Circuit Court of Appeals, where I am confident we will prevail.”