ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that consumer protection is essential for unleashing the true potential of e-commerce, which is going to assume greater importance in international trade in future.

Addressing a roundtable discussion on ‘E-Commerce for Development’ and a general session at the 14th meeting of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday, he appreciated the ‘E-trade for All’ initiative of UNCTAD and said it would provide ample opportunities to the developing nations to catch up with those nations which are already reaping dividends from the widespread use of e-commerce.

“The initiative will help the developing countries in seven policy areas, including e-commerce assessment, information and communication technology infrastructure, payments, trade logistics, legal and regulatory frameworks, skill development and financing for e-commerce,” the minister said.

He especially highlighted the deplorable conditions faced by the people of Indian occupied Kashmir, with a special focus on inhuman blockades, food shortages, attacks on ambulances and hospitals and urged the international community to play its part in alleviating these sufferings.

The minister asserted that the international community must respond to this tragic reality being played out in the Indian held territory by taking stock of the impact of occupation, as recognised by several UN resolutions, on the economic development of the occupied state.

He also called upon the participating countries to continue their efforts for institution building in Palestine, and hence mitigate the sufferings of the people living in the occupied land.

Dastgir asked the developed world to give high priority to the resolution of economic issues of the developing world, including in the area of agriculture, misuse of subsidies and flexibilities on intellectual property.

He stressed that the policymakers in international institutions should focus more on areas of interest to the developing countries such as volatile commodity prices, debt issues, operations of rating agencies and access to technologies on fair basis.

The minister urged the members that the consensus building role of UNCTAD should be revitalised. He said that a polarized environment in multilateral negotiating forums, coupled with rapid economic and technological changes, was making it increasingly difficult to arrive at broad-based agreements.

“UNCTAD can provide a forum where the ground can be prepared for concluding such agreements,” he noted.