The World Trade Organization has released a report showing the tangible increase of online commerce during the COVID-19 pandemics.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, global trade has changed much in volume but little in shape; the increase of e-commerce has been  the only tangible effect. The gap between developed and less developed countries has undeniably widened. In economic terms, it means some potential consumers are taken away from buying goods at a usually lower price, while having a wider array of different items to choose from.

Second, IT access has become a primary need for people: from online diagnosis to public services, the future is on-line, also giving momentum to positive externalities about pollution, overcrowding and responsiveness.

Harmonized Standards codes (HS codes) are a well established way to make physical trading as smooth as possible. Given the negative experience of emergency imports of sanitary items (face masks above all), when certifications were either neglected or released too hastily, a stringent conformity  common standard should be enforced. Although some may argue that it would increase red tape paperwork, a common standard would accelerate business once goods are certified.

Packing is a not so glamorous aspect of international trade; however, learning how to reduce volume and packaging costs is a key to make e-commerce more sustainable. Professionals have taken actions in this way, although much still needs to be done, especially concerning final user habits: we buy eight chocolate bars in a box, each packed singularly, and it hardly sustainable.

In synthesis, e-commerce is the future, and mainstream discussion is also focusing on the role of physical retailers. There will be room for further brainstorming on such topics.

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COVID-19 and world trade