Study on measuring international digital trade in the Arab region - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

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Study on measuring international digital trade in the Arab region

ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/CL4.SIT/2022/TP.1


Country: Arab region

Publication Type: Information material

Cluster: Statistics, Information Society and Technology

Focus Area: Statistics

Initiatives: Trade & industry statistics

Keywords: Arab countries, Globalization, Goods

Study on measuring international digital trade in the Arab region

March 2022

As digital trade has become a priority area for most countries, ESCWA presents the current study to
provide an overview of the main statistical framework for measuring digital trade, “The Handbook on
Measuring Digital Trade”, developed by OECD, WTO and IMF in 2019, which is consistent with economic
statistical standards. The study summarizes the data sources available to measure digitally ordered trade,
digitally delivered trade, the currently available data and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Arab
countries. While the pandemic adversely affected international trade in goods in the Arab countries,
including the digital trade in goods, due to logistical disruptions, closure of 65 per cent of air and land
border crossings and a 22 per cent fall in road freight transport in 2020 compared with 2019, it had a more
positive impact on the international trade in services, with trade redistributed among modes of supply. The
final part of the study provides detailed information, based on a questionnaire developed by ESCWA for
this purpose, on the production and dissemination of digital trade statistics in the Arab countries, to
enhance understanding of the major challenges faced by countries, as well as their projects and priorities in
the development of international digital trade statistics.

The analysis showed that only one Arab country currently produces official statistics on international digital
trade. Countries had different priorities in terms of their efforts to develop international digital trade
indicators and breakdowns, and in terms of their efforts to develop projects to facilitate the generation of
those statistics. Priority areas include the value of exports and imports digitally ordered and/or delivered
(total international digital trade) with a distinction between goods and services, the value of exports and
imports digitally ordered via a fee-based digital intermediation platform with a distinction between goods
and services and the breakdown by type of digital trade.

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