Switzerland tops global e-commerce index

There is a significant gap in the online trade between high and low-income countries that UNCTAD says urgently needs to be narrowed, if populations are to benefit from the digital economy. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Switzerland is the best equipped country for online shopping, according to a United Nations comparison of more than 150 states.

This content was published on February 18, 2021 - 10:25

Last year, 97% of the Swiss population used the Internet, the annual study by the Geneva-based UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) revealed on Wednesday. The Alpine nation received one of the highest scores (97 out of 100) for reliability of postal services. This is a key element of online shopping, which in 2018 was worth an estimated $4.4 trillion (CHF3.95 trillion) globally – up 7% from the previous year.

Eight of the top ten countries were in Europe (Singapore and Hong Kong were the other two), making it the leading continent for e-commerce. More than 70% of the adult population in Canada, the United States and 10 European states shop online. But in most low-income countries, that proportion is well below 10%.

“The e-commerce divide remains huge,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, who heads the Geneva-based division responsible for preparing the index. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it was more urgent for countries trailing behind to strengthen their e-trade readiness, she added, so that their populations can benefit from the digital economy. Globally the pandemic has given a boost to online shopping.

To establish the ranking, UNCTAD assessed countries on access to secure internet servers, reliability of postal services, and people’s access to the Internet and to a bank account or mobile financial services.

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