Opportunities, challenges in e-commerce highlighted

Oman Monday 27/May/2024 19:45 PM
By: Times News Service
Opportunities, challenges  in e-commerce highlighted

Muscat: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Investment Promotion organised the Oman e-commerce forum in its first edition on at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre Monday.

The forum was oragnised in the presence of Qais bin Mohammed Al Yousef, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Investment Promotion, Eng. Said bin Hamoud Al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, and a number of Their Excellencies and officials,.

 A number of experts and specialists also took part in the event to look into the efforts of the Sultanate of Oman and the GCC countries in the field of e-commerce and to highlight the opportunities and challenges.

During his speech at the forum, Dr. Saleh bin Said Masan, Undersecretary for Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion, said that e-commerce represents an essential part of the modern global economy, and plays a vital role in strengthening economic and cultural relations between nations and achieving sustainable development, by accelerating growth, expanding access to global markets, increasing cross-border trade and investment opportunities and stimulating innovation and product development.

Furthermore, e-commerce plays a role in cultural communication between peoples through the exchange of products, services, and ideas.

He added that based on Oman Vision 2040, which focuses on a number of national priorities to encourage and empower the e-commerce system in the Sultanate of Oman, such as economic diversification and financial development, the private sector, investment and international cooperation.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, in cooperation with the UNCTAD and supporting partners, prepared a national plan that was launched and started implementing its programmes and initiatives in 2022.

“The latest WTO reports indicate that the volume of global sales of e-commerce during 2023 amounted to $5.8 trillion, with an expected growth rate of 39% in the coming years, due to the increasing use of the internet and smartphones, the development of financial technology, and the expansion of sales via the Internet and global trade platforms.”

The Director of Commercial Affairs and e-commerce at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Investment Promotion, Azza Ibrahim Al Kindi, gave a visual presentation on the National e-commerce plan and its importance, which aims to support and facilitate e-commerce in the Sultanate of Oman by addressing challenges related to supply and demand and raising awareness among commercial companies and consumers.

Al Kindi has also indicated that the national e-commerce plan contains 8 basic axes, namely the e-commerce complex, information and communication technology infrastructure and services, transport, logistics and trade facilitation, business facilitation, e-procurement, skills and awareness, payments, and the legal and regulatory framework.

These axes include 30 initiatives supporting the plan which are distributed to the various government agencies participating in their respective fields of competence. She has also mentioned theE-commerce regulation that was issued last September.

She also pointed out that the completion rate of the initiatives of the national plan reached 46% by the end of 2023 by completing 14 initiatives supporting the plan during the year 2023.

These initiatives include an initiative that encourages the development of private data centres, provide technical platforms specialised in e-commerce, develop an electronic portal for commercial transactions, and ensure the availability of communication services at competitive prices.

Another initiative focuses on reducing the fees on licenses for transporting postal parcels and enabling postal companies to implement customs clearance.

A further initiative is to urge connectivity with neighbouring countries, in addition to issuing an e-commerce regulation, developing a trust mark for companies in e-commerce, simplifying the registration of e-commerce companies.

Added to the previous initiatives another initiative was developed to provide a supportive environment for innovation in electronic payments, review the Consumer Protection Law, the e-commerce programme, and implement the Oman Broadband Company’s network.

It is hoped that 3 initiatives supporting the national plan will be completed this year, with a completion rate of 53%, namely the Know Your Customer application for the Central Bank in addition to issuing the general policy for the postal services sector and creating fair and transparent customs duties on e-commerce shipments.

Hassan bin Riyad Al-Kilani, Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Economy in the United Arab Emirates, gave a visual presentation on the legal framework for E-commerce between GCC. The forum also witnessed a discussion session to learn about the opportunities and challenges in the field of e-commerce.

The forum highlighted the latest developments in the field of e-commerce and sharing the best practices and successful regional experiences, to contribute to strengthening regional cooperation and exchanging expertise and experiences in e-commerce and all aspects related to it.

The forum came out with effective recommendations that contribute to improving the business environment and enhancing the role of e-commerce in supporting economic growth and achieving sustainable development.

It is noteworthy that the value of the e-commerce market in the Sultanate of Oman amounted to $2 billion and $289 million in 2023, and is distributed over five main sectors, where electronics and media account for 32.9%, food and personal care products by 25%, fashion by 22.2%, furniture and household appliances by 13.3%, and toys, hobbies, and handicrafts by 6.6%.