The digital economy is bringing about significant changes worldwide. It is becoming increasingly relevant and indispensable for both consumers and businesses, offering opportunities for consumers such as finding the goods and services they need more easily and in a more convenient way and offering opportunities for businesses such as accessing consumers online. Such opportunities should be harnessed to contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic development and, in this regard, there is an increasing need to strengthen consumer protection and competition in the digital economy.

This note provides an overview of the current trends in the digital economy and their implications for consumer protection and competition policies. It reviews emerging issues in consumer protection in electronic commerce (e-commerce), in particular related to legal and policy frameworks, consumer empowerment and business guidance, enforcement and dispute resolution and redress. With regard to competition, it focuses on digital platforms and examines ways to restore competition in these highly concentrated markets, through a review of legal and policy frameworks, enforcement and regulation. Finally, it highlights the role of UNCTAD in promoting international cooperation and provides some policy recommendations.

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By UNCTAD, 2020.