COVID-19 speeds up digital transition of global trade


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to global trade, but it also created opportunities for foreign trade companies to go digital, said Diane Wang, CEO of, a cross-border e-commerce site.

While the pandemic had severe adverse impacts on international logistics and added liquidity pressure to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it also accelerated the pace at which firms are becoming more digital-savvy, Wang said in an interview with Xinhua.

“The digital divide has become more pronounced and wider than ever amid the crisis,” she said, noting that those that are more prepared in terms of digitalization have shown more flexibility and resilience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a huge blow to global trade. China’s exports dropped 11.4 percent year on year in yuan terms in the first quarter, as weak domestic production and sluggish external demand dampened activities.

The country has rolled out a series of measures to encourage innovation in foreign trade to keep it stable. Cross-border e-commerce, as a new business form, has seen rapid growth in recent years, with total retail exports via the channel jumping 60 percent year on year in 2019, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

In the first five months, the total value of retail exports via cross-border e-commerce increased by 12 percent, bucking the broader trade downturn.

As a B2B cross-border site, was also hit by the pandemic in Q1 before recovering in April and May, when the gross merchandise value increased by 30 to 40 percent year on year, according to the company.

The rebound was partly due to the company’s efforts to help merchants bring their offline businesses online, Wang said.

During the virtual Canton Fair in June, the company assisted exporters in leveraging livestreaming to market their products to global buyers, increasing their digital exposure.

“Going online is a new trend that all companies in the industry must embrace to survive,” she said.

As the country rolls out more supportive policies such as more streamlined customs clearance for B2B e-commerce, the company is expected to receive a boost, Wang said. Enditem

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