Earlier this month, Access Partnership released a white paper addressing the regional e-commerce landscape for Latin America. The paper sheds light on current trends and opportunities, looks at long-standing challenges, and includes policy considerations that policymakers should consider to help the region maintain a balanced regulatory framework for online marketplaces.
The report was presented during the online event, “E-commerce in Latin America: Maximising equitable growth and the potential of retail post-Covid-19”, which took place on 10 December.
The event provided key stakeholders with an opportunity to touch upon the crucial discoveries of the paper and discuss how governments, policymakers, and businesses can fully harness the potential of online, offline, and hybrid retail opportunities.
The stellar line-up of speakers was led by Thamilla Talarico, Access Partnership’s Senior Advisor, who gave the opening keynote address by reminding participants that there is a pressing need for stakeholders to cooperate in managing the social and economic consequences triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. She explained that in the face of the current wave of antitrust investigations sweeping Europe and the US involving large companies and e-commerce, there is a greater need to examine the retail landscape, the trends, the changing consumer, and business behaviour in Latin America. It is extremely important to understand the unique characteristics of the Latin American economy, regional players, and market structure and to avoid the premature adoption of new and untested regulations in Latin America that could affect e-commerce development.
Other speakers included Nanno Mulder, Chief of International Trade Unit at Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Bernardo Diaz de Astarloa, Visiting Researcher at the Centre of Distributive, Labour, and Social Studies (CEDLAS) of the La Plata National University (Argentina) and Consultant at UN-ECLAC; Tiago Prado, Research Fellow at the Quello Centre for Media and Information Policy at Michigan State University; María Fernanda Quiñones, Executive President at Colombian Chamber of Electronic Commerce (Cámara Colombiana de Comercio Electrónico – CCCE); and Pierre-Claude Blaise, CEO at Mexican Association of Online Sales (Asociación Mexicana de Venta Online – AMVO).
Nanno Mulder outlined the importance of cross-border e-commerce to the region and the need for coordination between public institutions to support the development of the sector. He noted that while e-commerce grew as a result of social-distancing measures and lockdowns during the pandemic, it was mostly domestic and not cross-border commerce.
Bernardo Diaz de Astarloa complemented Mr. Mulder’s presentation and gave a detailed overview of the regional e-commerce landscape and how it should be perceived as an economic growth tool. He also provided some examples of best practices in the region and highlighted that “the private sector remains the same, but administrations change”.
“The private sector can be a strong cohesive force to implement long term policies that the region has been struggling to implement”.
Bernardo Diaz de Astarloa
Tiago Prado pointed out the regulation of digital markets in Latin America could be premature given that that the region is at a different stage of development when compared to other advanced economies. Regarding the recent competition reforms taking place in other jurisdictions, Tiago commented,
“Policies that are being developed elsewhere should not necessarily be copied in Latin America”.
Maria Fernanda Quinones’s discussed public policies and responses that are required in Colombia to support e-commerce growth, such as “policy and regulatory balance between offline and online retail, to avoid that there are disincentives to consume electronically”. She also discussed investment in logistics and reducing sector-specific taxes. She pointed out that “the entry of new international players will improve competition and bring benefits to consumers”.
Pierre Blaise described the retail landscape in Mexico in 2020 and 2021 and the competitiveness of the Mexican market. Regarding consumer habits and retail trends, Pierre emphasised the importance of omnichannel strategies, which allow consumers to start and complete purchases on different channels, to drive sustained retail sales.
“Almost nine out of ten consumers do interact between the physical store and the digital store. The future of commerce is omnichannel, not only online”.
The webinar included a successful Q&A session, where panellists took questions from the audience.
You can download Access Partnership’s policy paper “E-commerce in Latin America: Maximizing equitable growth and the potential of retail post-Covid-19” by filling the form below.