Establish private-public partnerships to help SME’s on using digital technologies

Japanese people always focusing on the physical meetings. That’s why the rate of working at home is very low in Japan; actually, much lower than other countries like, US and UK; we had only 19 percent last year. But amid Covid-19, we introduced the working at home.

This survey was done by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Emergency Survey in March 2020. In March only, 24 percent Japanese companies in Tokyo answered that they are already utilizing working from home. But this April, a state of emergency has been started and just after that around 70 percent of companies answered they introduced working from home. We had to deal with disturbed trade as well. You can understand how the e-commerce market in Japan is expanding. Last year we had a 119 billion US dollar e-commerce market in Japan and we can enjoy a 10 percent growth every year and we are also expanding cross-border e-commerce with other countries.

This statistics is by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japanese Government and this number is the cross-border e-commerce volume among three countries Japan, US and China. As you can see that China is the biggest buyer for Japan; they purchased 350 billion USD, from Japan and the US. So, we can understand the possibility of how cross-border e-commerce is.

This statistics is released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japanese Government and we can understand how cross-border e-commerce will be expanding. They estimate that in 2020 the global cross-border e-commerce market is around 900 billion USD and you can compare with other numbers like the Japanese yearly consumption volume, which is 2700 billion USD, so you can understand one side of the whole Japanese consumption volume. The cross-border e-commerce volume will be expanded to around 5,000 billion USD in 2027. So that means we can enjoy a 27 growth rate every year.

As I mentioned China is one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world. As you can see, only this year they have 2.42 trillion USD only in the domestic market in China and you understand that more than half of the share was taken by Alibaba. So, JETRO has decided to collaborate with Alibaba to expand a B2B digital trade page in Alibababa.com. We also expand B2C initiative by collaborating with other e-commerce providing platforms. We call it Japan Mall Project and we now have 22 countries in the project and we are thinking that we'd like to expand to Bangladesh as well by collaboration with e-commerce start-ups or supermarket companies in Bangladesh. 

As you know digitalization has become a very crucial factor for expanding the economies and societies. However, the countries, and the consumers and the companies, may have concerns that once data moves abroad, the treatment of data is really different amongst them. We have to deal with these gaps, these differentiations. By discussion in the G20 summit in Osaka, major international initiative in data flows "the Osaka Track" is launched by the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. You can easily understand by one easy example. Let me talk about the medical service in digital trade, for example everyone has the history of diseases, and this history can help to receive the preventive measures and data flow among the hospitals and the medical institutes provide smooth medical services, and when this kind of data is accumulated as big data that means no personal information, it can help to conduct research and policy making in health sector. This is really the positive side and opportunities in the medical sector. On the other hand, we also have the challenges. For example, the personal history is privacy data and must be kept confidential with one's consent. The ways of data utilization for example in medical sector has to be distinguished between personal utilization and big data analysis. So common rules and standards are really needed to deal with this kind of digital data. These points are discussed in the World Economic Forum's meetings to discuss the dataflow initiative. As the panelist mentioned business people should establish trust with consumers and as a client by providing the information on data treatment and enhancing transparency. And I think in this regard, the government and large industries actors should establish private and public partnerships to help SMEs on using digital technologies to drive activity, grow smoothly and enhance the competitiveness to reach new markets abroad. In this regard, I think developed economies, international organizations and the business community can provide some technical assistance and other capacity building tools to enable developing economies to enhance the business capability and the possibility.

Yuji Ando

Yuji Ando is the Country Representative of JETRO Dhaka. This piece is transcribed from his speech at ‘Digital Trade in Global Perspective’ webinar in Digital Trade Week 2020 organized by Merchant Bay. The full recording of the webinar session is available at facebook.com/merchantbaybd

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