PH slips 10 notches in global e-commerce index

Published February 18, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippines slipped 10 notches lower to 96th from 86th in the 2020 global e-commerce readiness index, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported.

The UNCTAD Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-commerce Index 2020 where Switzerland climbed to the top spot replacing Netherlands, ranked the Philippines 96th among 152  countries in the study. The study measures the readiness of countries to engage in and benefit from e-commerce.

Based on the survey, the Philippines registered a negative 5.1 index value in 2020.

The share of individuals using the internet in the Philippines was pegged at 65 percent.

In the ASEAN region, the Philippines ended fourth in the bottom that listed Myanmar (130th), Cambodia (117th), and Lao PDR (101th).

Top ASEAN performers are Singapore (4th), Malaysia (30th), Thailand (42nd), and Vietnam (63rd).

Europe remained by far the most prepared region for e-commerce, according to the report. UNCTAD, however, also cited of  wide gaps with countries with the lowest level of readiness need to be addressed by tackling weaknesses in those nations to spread the benefits of digital transformation to more people.

For the first time, Switzerland led the UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index, just ahead of the Netherlands. In 2019, 97 percent of the Swiss population used the internet. The only non-European economies among the top 10 are Singapore, ranked fourth, and Hong Kong (China) in the 10th position.

The index scores 152 nations on their readiness for online shopping, worth an estimated $4.4 trillion globally in 2018, up 7 percent from the previous year.

Countries are scored on access to secure internet servers, reliability of postal services and infrastructure, and the portion of their population that uses the internet and has an account with a financial institution or a provider of mobile money services.

Notably, UNCTAD cited that the 10 developing countries with the highest scores are all from Asia and classified as high-income or upper-middle-income economies.

At the other end of the spectrum, least developed countries occupy 18 of the bottom 20 positions.

The two largest B2C e-commerce markets in the world, China and the United States, rank 55th and 12th respectively in the index. Although both countries lead in several absolute measures, they lag in relative comparisons.

For instance, internet penetration in the United States is lower than in any of the economies in the top 10, while China ranks 87th in the world on this indicator. As for online shopping penetration, the United States ranks 12th while China takes the 33rd slot.

“The e-commerce divide remains huge,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division that prepares the annual index. “Even among G20 countries, the extent to which people shop online ranges from 3 percent in India to 87 percent in the United Kingdom.”