Chairman of CAA Anura Meddegoda, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union Delegation in Sri Lanka Frank Hess, Secretary of Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Chulananda Perera look on as visiting e-commerce expert from Geneva’s International Trade Centre Professor Michael Geist lights the ceremonial lamp at the launch of second e-commerce PPD in Colombo yesterday.
Sri Lanka’s e-commerce business sector is projected to hit US $ 400 million by 2022. The country has also swiftly moved one more step closer to formulating an e-commerce framework that would safeguard the country’s digital transactions locally and abroad.
According to industry experts, Sri Lanka’s annual domestic e-commerce sales value including services is around an estimated US $ 40 million (Sri Lanka Rs 6.4 billion). This can grow to US $400 million by 2022. The growing importance in retail sector in Sri Lanka’s GDP which has the potential to expand to ecommerce.
“I thank the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka for their continued support through the EU-Sri Lanka Trade-Related Assistance Project. We acknowledge the efforts by the ITC as the lead implementing agency and for their committed initiatives in leading this second Private Public Dialogue on Sri Lanka E-Commerce Reform,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen addressing the launch event of second Private Public Dialogue on Sri Lanka E-Commerce Reform in Colombo. It was organised jointly by the Consumer Affairs Authority under hum and International Trade Centre, Geneva.
This second PPD, part of the EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assistance project of Euro 8 million funded by the European Union (2016-2020), follows on the successful completion of first PPD of March 15-16, 2018 in Colombo, and seeks to wrap the draft recommendations made by visiting e-commerce expert from Geneva’s ITC Professor Michael Geist following the first PPD.
“In this second dialogue CAA is working with all stakeholders to identify specific provisions where the current Sri Lanka legal framework falls short in these five themes so that updating national laws by formulating legislative proposals could follow thereafter.” As a Government Regulatory Agency it is necessary for CAA to establish national policies for consumer protection that encourages good practices applicable also to e- commerce.
Sri Lankan consumer needs to be protected at pre purchase, purchase and post-purchase stages.
This can be done by establishing a good internet infrastructure for e-commerce, updating present legal frameworks on e-commerce, preventing misuse of consumer data, providing consumer education and enforcing relevant laws.
Visiting ITC Ecommerce expert and Prof Michael Geist (Full Professor-University of Ottawa and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law and who sits on the Board of CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority) which manages Canada’s .ca domains) said: “Sri Lanka’s e-commerce value is smaller in comparison to the region and it represents a challenge and opportunity of its potential.”
My report is designed to find a way forward for Sri Lanka e-commerce.
The five areas identified need further work in terms of legislative and programmatic aspects. Consumer protection laws & privacy is a foundational question –laws on protection may be working for off-line transactions but not for e-commerce-how do you make them to work in a digital environment.
Date protection has become a strong need especially since March after passing the General Data Protection and Regulation in EU and as a result many around the world is paying closer attention to these rules and there is room for action in Sri Lanka on this too.