What are business executives in developing countries and trade development officials saying about e-trade? Below is a "sampler" - a taste of the individual views expressed during the Executive Forum process. For more views, see the Executive Forum web site, which contains e-discussions, e-briefs, interviews and an online version of the book emanating from the Executive Forum 2000.
E-competency = Mindset change
"E-competency is... a problem of a change in mentality, a change in policies. I would say even a cultural change. It is not something that you can import, that you can buy and get installed. It involves many different elements in the way not only the private sector but also the public sector does business."
Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General, UNCTAD, Geneva
A business strategist's view: It's not about technology
"We are moving from a networked society, which we have in many places, to a global electronic marketplace. This transition will be driven by technology, and our societies will need to adapt our institutions to this speed.
"The problem is one of knowledge, of understanding, and only then of lack of finance and public-private partnership, whatever that partnership should be. The first thing we have to do is convince governments persuade them, train them, scare them perhaps - that it is in their interest to do something to catch up with this world.
"You need to sit down and examine what you are good at what your core competencies are, where you can leverage your skills. In business or in government, you start with leadership and vision, then move into your core competencies. Then you take up governance issues: who is in charge of the process? You next look at technology. Afterwards you get back to basics and concentrate on your e-commerce strategy, web site and online strategies. But only once you have answered the other questions.
"I truly believe that anyone can participate in the new digital economy - so long as they understand that the most important skill and the most important environment is one that promotes creativity, entepreneurship, imagination and awareness of where the world is going. It is not about technology tools."
Vadim Levitin, Chief Operating Officer, e-Commerce Institute, San Diego, California (interview summary).
"E-trade strikingly reflects one of the great paradoxes of our times. It is essentially `borderless', but there is no borderless commercial law; it is essentially international, but international trade law, strictly speaking, does not exist. Therefore, law-makers in each country are bound to contribute to framing a mosaic consisting of some 167 different national laws for one global phenomenon."
Jean-Francois Bourque, ITC, Geneva
"Because of the speed of technological change and the essentially international scope of the subject, e-trade in various ways defies governance by any single national entity. Therefore, a body of laws promulgated by countries insisting on working in isolation will very likely be incoherent."
Toby C. Monsod, Assistant Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry, Manila, Philippines
"For me, the most important thing is for the government to bring in civil society to achieve consensus on how to introduce e-competency into society. If not, any education, any infrastructure - anything we do - is not going to work. …