Legal & regulatory frameworks

World Economic Forum: Digital Trade Programme


The World Economic Forum Digital Trade Project brings together high-profile business, expert, civil society and government actors on digital trade priorities.

The programme operates on three fronts:


Enabling E-commerce

Enabling E-commerce is an informal collaboration spearheaded by the World Economic Forum, the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to drive public-private dialogue on e-commerce policies and practices that benefit small businesses.

Enabling E-commerce aims to:

  • Catalyse discussion among public and private actors
  • Collect best practices and explore national regulatory enabling environments
  • Apply and scale best practices with partners


Cross-border data flow frameworks

The World Economic Forum data flow work aims to: 

  • Create a more trustworthy, integrated framework for transferring and processing data across borders while raising levels of data protection
  • Develop an inventory of factors that policymakers must navigate around data flows
  • Identify forward-leaning data policies that meet development goals and encourage the adoption of globally interoperable standards


Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a newly established focal point for multistakeholder cooperation on the challenges presented by advanced technologies.

Based in San Francisco, the Center is helping stakeholders develop governance frameworks across eight areas, including on digital trade related topics such as:

  • Blockchain and distributed ledger technology
  • Digital trade and cross-border data flows
  • Internet of things and connected devices

The Center will advance in-country pilot initiatives to improve digital trade use and governance. For more information download the brochure and watch a short video.

For whom

Decision makers
Private sector
Business Associations
Policy makers
Law makers
Legal professionals

Services offered

Scoping Papers

The World Economic Forum is publishing a series of scoping papers on global e-commerce challenges. These set a baseline for public-private dialogue on potential solutions. Visit the “Meet the beneficiaries” section below for more information.

Best Practice Advice

The World Economic Forum convenes public-private dialogue on best practices and solutions for e-commerce challenges. Each workshop curates discussion on where targeted interventions may be needed in national, regional or international settings to ensure global e-commerce drives inclusive growth – particularly for small businesses.

Meet the beneficiaries

Available Scoping Papers

1. Paperless Trade (in collaboration with UN/CEFACT)

The paper aims to help traders and governments:

  • Better understand the direct benefits of paperless trade
  •  Get a selection of the most important UN/CEFACT technical standards
  • Discover relevant case studies and best practices of paperless trade implementation.

Access the paper here


2. E-signatures (in collaboration with UNCITRAL)

The paper provides an overview of UNCITRAL Model Laws and how these help governments facilitate, secure and improve interoperability in the field of:

  • e-transactions
  • e-signatures
  • digital authentication

A paper on electronic payments is in production. Further work is scheduled on online consumer protection and delivery logistics.


Digital ASEAN

The World Economic Forum Regional Steering Group supports public-private initiatives that accelerate the region’s digital economy integration and global growth. Five working groups will identify concrete actions in the areas of cybersecurity; cross-border data flows; enabling e-commerce and e-payments; digital access; and digital human capital to take with a December 2019 timeframe.

E15Initiative – Maximizing Digital Trade Opportunities

An E15Initiative report provides insights and identifies:

  •  Digital trade opportunities for developing countries and SMEs
  •  How growing access to the Internet benefits and changes the trade environment
  • Existing policy options on ensuring digital trade benefits are widely spread.