A report by the World Bank Group on Monday said that online retail sales in India is merely 1.6 percent of total retail trade in the country.
It noted that in the neighbouring country of Bangladesh, too, the online sales a mere 0.7 percent of total retail sales, while that in China is 15 percent and around 14 percent globally.
The report titled, “Unleashing e-commerce for South Asian Integration” jointly released by World Bank Group and Cuts International said that e-commerce can become a driver of growth across South Asia and boost trade between in the region, but its potential remains largely untapped.
Increasing the use of e-commerce by consumers and firms in South Asia could potentially help increase competition and firm productivity, and encourage diversification of production and exports, it said.
“E-commerce can boost a range of economic indicators across South Asia, from entrepreneurship and job growth to higher GDP rates and overall productivity,” said Sanjay Kathuria, World Bank Lead Economist.
A survey of over 2,200 firms in South Asia showed that the top concerns on cross-border among the South Asian countries in e-commerce include logistics, e-commerce and digital regulations, and connectivity and information technology infrastructure.
These barriers are significantly higher when trading with other South Asian countries, the report. The main international e-partners of firms in South Asia are China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Small and medium enterprises in the region reported that removing regulatory and logistical challenges to e-commerce would increase their exports, employment, and productivity by as much as 20-30 percent. To overcome these hurdles, the report proposes reforms in areas such as payments, delivery, market access regulations, consumer protection, and data privacy, at the national, regional, and global levels.