The Arab Federation of Chambers of Shipping organized a virtual symposium entitled "The effect of the Coronavirus on electronic commerce, the electronic shipping bill and its impact on Arab maritime trade and transport", on June 15th, with the participation of a group of specialists, decision-makers, and intellectuals in the Arab world.
The Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Chambers, Dr. Khaled Hanafy spoke at the webinar, indicating its importance in light of the continued repercussions of the Coronavirus on the Arab and global economy, pointing to the impact of the Coronavirus on trade in general and on electronic one in particular, considering that the Corona pandemic has greatly affected the reality of international trade, adding that this effect may be short-term and maybe long-term, depending on the period that this virus will take, in addition to the preparations of the countries of the world to confront this deadly virus.
Hanafy hopes that global economic and commercial activity will recover as soon as possible, which will be reflected again on the reality of global growth, which has witnessed a significant decline since the start of the "Coronavirus" several months ago. Noting that, based on the global decline in the area of traditional trade, the Coronavirus has certainly left an impact on the reality of electronic commerce despite the steady growth it has achieved in the past period in light of the growing effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the shift towards the digital economy.
He also considered that electronic commerce has become the general trend of most countries in the world, but the question here is, are our Arab countries ready to go with with this transformation? Where the success and supremacy of any country is due to the speed in adopting this transformation by passing legislations and laws that serve the interest of our Arab countries.
Hanafy emphasized that transportation is an essential component in the trade process, whether at the global level or at the Arab level, he saw that the e-commerce train runs on two main engines, the first engine, which is transactions and payment methods, while the second engine is shipping methods (land, sea, air), which are two things far from the reality of digitization in our Arab world. Stressing that trade through maritime transport is the primary means in the process of trade and transporting goods, as 85 percent of commercial transactions are carried out through the means of maritime transport. He also added that the world has changed greatly and all countries of the world have begun to realize that digital technology must be used to authenticate documents and certificates of origin.
He considered that the main problem in the Arab world lies in the fact that the Arab maritime transport accounts for only a very small percentage of the inter-Arab trade, and this is surprising as all countries depend on maritime transport in their global trade, explaining that many Arab countries still have hesitations with regard to for e-commerce, and it is these fears that have caused the reality of this trade not to develop in our Arab world. He called on the Arab countries to eliminate the fears on this level, because fear is often a criterion of retreat. As the world progresses, we must also go ahead and keep pace with development, because the countries that have achieved development in the field of maritime, land or air transport are those countries that removed obstacles that are often what stands in the way of progress. Considering that getting rid of fear needs to enact laws and legislations that serve the interest and development of our Arab countries.
Hanafy explained that despite the adoption of a limited number of Arab countries, the change in the level of electronic commerce, but many countries are still far from this change, and this requires the removal of restrictions and disposal of the bureaucracy that impedes the movement of inter-Arab trade and general trade with the rest of the world.
He concluded: The electronic transformation must be comprehensive in the Arab region, and it has become urgent at this stage where the "Coronavirus" imposed major transformations worldwide, and in my opinion the Arab private sector has a major role in the success of this transformation, as it is not acceptable to draw policies away from the private sector, whose activity represents 75 percent of Arab national income.
Source (Union of Arab Chambers)