At UNCTAD, the Commerce Minister Addresses How the Digital Economy is Reshaping the Future Landscape of Global Trade

07 Dec 2023


Dr. Majid AlQasabi, the Commerce Minister and Chairman of the National Center for Competitiveness, highlighted Saudi Arabia's commitment to diversifying its economy, with a focus on new and emerging sectors. He noted a significant achievement - a 77% increase in non-oil exports from 2016 to 2022.

During his speech at a high-level e-commerce session at UNCTAD's Digital Week in Geneva, Dr. AlQasabi emphasized the dramatic rise in international trade, which soared to 7.7 trillion last year, significantly impacting the Middle East and North Africa's engagement in global trade.

His Excellency underscored the transformative impact of global digital adoption on trade, enhancing its efficiency, reliability, and transparency. The Minister pointed out that the integration of cutting-edge technologies has not only reshaped global and local trade but also altered consumer behaviors. Saudi Arabia is aligning with these global trends through its economic reforms, infrastructure modernization, a shift towards a digital economy, and the promotion of a knowledge-based economic framework.

On the topic of regional trade agreements and free trade, Dr. AlQasabi brought attention to a concerning issue: since 2018, the World Trade Organization has struggled to resolve trade disputes among its member nations. 

Dr. Majid AlQasabi, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Commerce, highlighted the benefits of regional and free trade agreements during a session on e-commerce at the UNCTAD Digital Week. He noted their role in facilitating trade and securing supply chains but also raised concerns about the need for global trade governance to ensure fair and ethical practices. This is particularly crucial as the world grapples with challenges like climate change, AI, and cybersecurity, which require a unified global approach.

The session featured prominent figures such as UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebecca Greenspan, Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Commerce in Cambodia, Ms. Rath Sreya; the Ambassador of Mauritius and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ms. Usha Chandnee Dwarka Canabady; the Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, Dr. Yusnier Romero Puentes; Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Joanna Hill; President of the E-Commerce Association of Kyrgyzstan, Aikanish Sabaraliyeva; and Professor of International Economics at Lucerne University, Professor Mira Burri.

During the UNCTAD week, the Saudi Minister of Commerce engaged with representatives from the World Economic Forum (WEF). They discussed progress on a cooperation agreement initiated last September by the National Center for Competitiveness. This agreement focuses on enhancing and developing the service trade sector in Saudi Arabia and boosting its global market competitiveness. Additionally, the Minister had a meeting with Professor Richard Baldwin, a renowned economics expert from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).

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Last Modified 13 Dec 2023