The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is causing a global health emergency, and a global economic slowdown. Trade, investment, growth, and employment are all affected and the crisis will have an impact on the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

eTrade for all partners are fully involved in finding ways to mitigate the crisis stemming from the pandemic in their respective field of expertise. On this site, you will find a repository of useful resources from our partners providing insights, briefs, publications and overall guidance in ways to cope with the COVID-19 fallout as it relates to e-commerce and the digital economy.

News

WIPO

The WIPO Pearl terminology database has added some 1,500 new COVID-19-related terms in 10 languages, helping innovators targeting new coronavirus treatments and diagnostics with a baseline set of terms and their multilingual equivalents. This advancement will foster international collaboration and promote easier access to information in patent documents and other public resources produced around the world.

From today, WIPO Pearl now contains 147 key concepts related to COVID-19, amounting to nearly 1,500 terms as each concept is given in 10 languages. They are primarily drawn from the fields of biology, medicine (especially epidemiology and diagnostics), and public health and each concept is provided in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, which are also the official languages of WIPO’s International Patent System. The aim is to help provide consistency and clarity across different languages regarding key terminology of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Innovation is increasingly global in nature, so a verified multilingual set of commonly understood COVID-19-related terms creates a knowledge base that helps researchers access and build upon work created in another language,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “WIPO is providing this upgraded service in support of the global drive to find new treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus, which is the quintessential global challenge requiring mutual comprehension and cooperation.”

These COVID-19 terms are available in the WIPO Pearl database, which contains nearly 200,000 terms in total on subjects ranging from biopesticides, chatbots and green chemistry to nanosatellites, quantum computing and virtual reality. The terms also exist in a separate stand-alone glossary on the WIPO Pearl website. The glossary is divided into topics and, within each topic, concepts are listed according to the relations among them. This allows related concepts to be viewed together and helps to understand how they are associated – something that would not be possible with an alphabetical listing.

The glossary also contains links to the full terminology record in WIPO Pearl for each concept, where definitions, multilingual equivalents, contexts illustrating term usage and meaning, and term reliability scores can be found, as well as “concept maps” which graphically and dynamically depict how each concept relates to other concepts.

The collection of COVID-19 terms is also linked to PATENTSCOPE: a one-click search launched either from the glossary or from the WIPO Pearl application (Linguistic Search or Concept Map Search) that allows any patents containing these terms, in any of the 10 languages, to be easily retrieved. A researcher could, for example, start with an English term and, by using the validated equivalents for the term in other languages, be able to retrieve relevant patents in up to nine other languages.

Since these COVID-19 terms are of particular relevance currently, WIPO has made them available for free download. Users may access a .pdf file containing the terms in all of the languages and a definition in English for each concept, or an .xml file that allows the collection of COVID-19 terminology to be integrated into other applications, such as computer-assisted translation software or data mining tools.

Seventy bilingual terminology records (200 terms) in the collection were provided by students at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. WIPO-PCT language experts provided the remaining 77 records in the collection and added 1,300 terms in different languages to ensure that all 147 concepts are provided in all 10 languages of WIPO Pearl. Further concepts will be added to the collection in the coming months.

More about WIPO Pearl

WIPO Pearl was launched in 2014 to promote accurate and consistent use of scientific and technical terms across the ten languages of publication of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the WIPO-administered International Patent System, making it easier to search and share scientific and technical knowledge across different languages. The database, developed by experienced WIPO language experts and terminologists, now contains over 190,000 terms. The interface is available in 10 languages and also in a mobile-friendly form.

Scientific and technical terms can be searched in 45 different language combinations, offering the possibility to search between European and Asian languages, as well as between any of these languages and Arabic. This makes WIPO Pearl unique amongst the current offering of language resources available freely on the Web. Knowledge-rich contexts are provided for each term to help illustrate what it means and how it is used.

Also unique to WIPO Pearl are Concept Maps, which allow the user to browse domain knowledge by exploring links between concepts. These links have been researched and manually entered by WIPO terminologists to show concepts that are broader or narrower in scope than other concepts. Users also have the option to exploit information displayed in subsets of Concept Maps – so-called Concept Paths – to conduct combined keyword searches in PATENTSCOPE, WIPO’s patent database. PATENTSCOPE can also be accessed directly from the hit-list of results obtained by conducting a traditional search by term in the Linguistic Search interface.

In addition to providing human-built Concept Maps, WIPO Pearl leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to generate so-called Concept Clouds – suggested new clusters of relations between concepts. WIPO Pearl is the first terminology database to feature such an innovation.

WIPO Pearl is also integrated with WIPO Translate, WIPO’s internally developed machine translation engine featuring innovative AI neural machine translation technology, so as to offer the user machine-translated suggestions when a term is not available in one of the target languages.

An ever-growing network of partners worldwide, including universities and government bodies, now helps to populate WIPO Pearl with new terms, whilst subject field experts in the partner institutions check the accuracy of terms in their field of specialization and raise the term reliability score.

The WIPO Pearl terminology database has added some 1,500 new COVID-19-related terms in 10 languages, helping innovators targeting new coronavirus treatments and diagnostics with a baseline set of terms and their multilingual equivalents....

ESCAP

This Online repository provides access to written contributions submitted by participants to the Policy Hackathon on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and Other Trade Agreements. The contributions featured in this Online repository have been made available as received and are under the sole responsibility of their author(s). Upon submission, participants have declared that their contribution is their own autonomous work, that all the sources have been correctly cited and listed as references and that any eventual errors or inaccuracies are the fault of the authors. The contributions do not represent the views of the United Nations or that of any other Policy Hackathon organizing and participating institutions. The inclusion of the contributions in the online repository does not constitute an endorsement of the contents by the United Nations and Policy Hackathon organizers. The contributions are unedited work in progress willingly contributed by their authors during the Policy Hackathon and are publicly accessible for all to use at their own risk with reference to the author(s). It is hoped that this emerging body of knowledge will provide a useful basis and inspiration for trade policymakers and negotiators to develop regional and other trade agreements that can increase trade resilience in times of crisis and pandemic and support recovery and building back better. To make it easier to browse through, the contributions have been grouped according to different topics/categories. Contributions that have been identified by the Expert Group as standing out in terms of quality, relevance, comprehensiveness and/or originality are identified with a “🏆”. A brief overview of contributions is also available here.

This Online repository provides access to written contributions submitted by participants to the Policy Hackathon on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and Other Trade Agreements. The...

ECA

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Thursday launched a new COVID-19 cross-border trade report urging governments on the continent to adopt and harmonize policies that will help continent strike an appropriate balance between curbing the spread of the virus and facilitating emergency and essential trade.

Titled Facilitating cross-border trade through a coordinated African response to COVID-19, the report says continued inefficiencies and disruptions to cross-border trade presented significant challenges for Africa’s fight against COVID-19, and risked holding back the continent’s progress towards the attainment of the sustainable development and goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Maintaining trade flows as much as possible during the pandemic will be crucial in providing access to essential food and much-needed medical items and in limiting negative impacts on jobs and poverty, said Mr. Stephen Karingi, Director of the ECA’s Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) that penned the report.

To curtail the rapid spread of the virus, African nations introduced lockdowns and various restrictions that negatively affected cross-border and transit freight transportation.

The border restrictions and regulations have helped minimize infections and deaths across the continent but had a negative impact on cross-border trade and economic activity, hindering both significantly.

The report recommends that African nations should cooperate and harmonize COVID-19 border regulations to reduce delays, while not undermining the safety of trade. It proposes fast tracking implementation of existing Regional Economic Community (REC) COVID-19 guidelines, including establishing regional coordinating committees with the primary task of addressing operational issues at national borders.

In addition, the report says regional efforts must also be coordinated at continental level through the African Union Commission. A common COVID-19 AU Protocol on trade and transport is needed given the overlap in membership of RECs and shared trade facilitation goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“In developing such a protocol, the experiences and best practices of RECs need to be taken into account,” said Mr. Karingi during the launch.

A common African Union COVID-19 test certificate for truck drivers and crew members will be crucial to facilitate movement of essential personnel across borders with the least possible interference.

Amid the pandemic, African economies should not let COVID-19 undermine regional integration and must maintain the momentum and ambition of the AfCFTA process, said Mr. Karingi.

Panelists and participants agreed that digital solutions are crucial in helping continent address outstanding cross border trade issues for example electronic cargo tracking systems, electronic signatures and documents, and the use of mobile banking and payment systems to support safe and efficient trade.

“COVID-19 has increased the urgency for us to do better and find innovative solutions to facilitate safe and efficient cross-border trade. It will be important for Africa to maintain and upgrade these solutions post COVID-19, to lower trade costs, boost competitiveness, and support more resilient cross-border trade in the face of future shocks,” said Mr. Karingi.

For his part, Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Lovemore Bingandadi said COVID-19 lessons should be used to improve efficiencies in cross-border trade on the continent.

“Africa’s response could have been better had they been done at continental level when the pandemic struck. Nevertheless, it has given us an opportunity to address in a coordinated way longstanding cross-border trade challenges that we face,” he said.

Mr. Bingandadi emphasized continental solutions were the best way to deal with the border inefficiencies and cross-border trade issues, adding the AfCFTA would go a long way in helping address these.

UNCTAD’s Technology and Logistics Director, Shamika Sirimanne, for her part emphasized the importance of innovation and technology to fight the pandemic and in helping Africa building back better in the aftermath of the crisis.

“COVID-19 has shown us the need for information-sharing and use of technologies for coordinated responses in the area of trade and transport connectivity,” said Ms. Sirimanne.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Thursday launched a new COVID-19 cross-border trade report urging governments on the continent to adopt and harmonize policies that will help continent strike an appropriate balance between curbing...

ICAO
In her remarks today at the official opening of the final week of the Virtual World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2020, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu underscored that information and communications technologies are critical to aviation’s role in global UN Sustainable Development Goal attainment, and to how air transport will build back better post-COVID-19.

“Increased air transport digitalization promotes critical efficiencies and capabilities which improve our sector’s capabilities as a catalyst for socio-economic and sustainability benefits,” Dr. Liu stated. “This is especially relevant given that ICAO-compliant air services and international connectivity are already improving global outcomes toward the achievement of 15 of the 17 SDGs.”

Summarizing the devastation COVID-19 is now wreaking on global air connectivity, Dr. Liu also strongly emphasized how digital capabilities will be critical to air transport’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Whether we are talking entirely new technologies, or new applications of existing technologies, digital, AR, and AI solutions are now at hand to permit us to pre-screen passengers and cargo more extensively than ever before, for both health and security risks, and with greater efficiency and less disruption,” Dr. Liu said. “They also provide the foundations for the next generation of autonomous aircraft, drones, and the transformations that Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) will lead to in terms of personal mobility, e-commerce, civilian and community services, and many other applications.”

Dr. Liu also reiterated that, with innovation and digitization set to play such an important role in how we restart and recover on a more sustainable path, and at an ever-increasing rate, ICAO is embracing it today as never before.

“We’re working to achieve greater flexibility, responsiveness, and efficiency where the assessment and rule-making on emerging technologies is concerned, and an important part of my message to you today is that you can count on us to be your committed and effective partner going forward in all things innovation related,” Dr. Liu commented. “We have a great deal we can accomplish together, and ICAO will continue to rely on the partnership and vision of the ITU as we progress together toward a greener, more sustainable, and more innovative digital future for coming generations.”

E-Residency

E-Residency is readymade for remote working entrepreneurs, so at a time when many people around the world are looking to start their own small businesses or shift to freelance work online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Estonia’s groundbreaking programme is more relevant than ever. Having access to Estonia’s digital nation enables 70,000 e-residents from over 170 countries to run their businesses entirely online from anywhere.

What is e-Residency?

E-Residency is a digital identity issued by the Republic of Estonia to people outside its borders, which enables them to securely verify themselves online and access all tools needed to launch an online business.  E-residents can register an EU-based company within a day, digitally sign and encrypt documents and contracts in line with the highest EU standards, access a range of business banking and payment options, and declare and pay taxes online. Last but not least, they join a global community of like-minded remote entrepreneurs and startup founders from around the world.

The programme is especially attractive for location-independent entrepreneurs who want to set up a company based in the trusted, transparent business environment of Estonia and by extension the EU. E-residents run businesses in a range of sectors, including IT and digital marketing, consulting, translation, recruitment, and eCommerce. Like Christoph Huebner, originally from Germany, who runs his insurance startup while travelling around the world. Or Glasgow-based Vicky Brock, who set up her Estonian company to keep her business in the EU after Brexit. Read more e-resident stories on our blog.

How did COVID-19 impact e-Residency and e-residents?

Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, e-Residency applications and access to Estonia’s e-services have been unaffected. E-residents have continued to access all digital services in the country, including the company registration portal, tax board website (EMTA), online banking, and more. Due to travel restrictions or border closures, some e-residents have at times faced disruptions in picking up their digital IDs, but we continue to work hard along with Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to alleviate and address these.

The e-Residency team has also shifted our 2020 priorities and activities as a result of COVID-19 by focusing on how we can help e-resident entrepreneurs withstand the uncertain economic situation. This has involved transforming the way we interact with our community of e-residents, for example by offering more online events and webinars in lieu of physical meet-ups and helping raise the profile of e-resident businesses on our website, blog, and social media. COVID-19 has also highlighted the need for us to accelerate longer term projects and strategies to open up access to e-Residency to more people around the world, e.g. by expanding pickup locations and looking at how to make the pickup process more seamless.

In our covid impact survey, we learned that many e-resident entrepreneurs are also adapting their businesses, including by pivoting to new revenue streams, going virtual, finding new clients and markets, or helping those in need. The survey respondents confirmed that e-Residency has made it easier to undertake these activities during the crisis as it is ready made for running a borderless business remotely, supporting a lean and agile company setup, and focusing on creating value.

COVID-19 has also revealed that our community is full of good samaritans.  Every day, we hear inspiring stories about those using their skills for good, like Sri Lankan e-resident Alagan Mahalingam and his team at Expert Republic offering an all-in-one video platform for professionals to offer online consultations and Vicky Brock tackling the increase in online scams and misinformation created by the crisis through her company Vistalworks. Plus, we set up a community page for e-residents to volunteer their time and expertise for others doing it tough and were blown away with the response and the generosity of what was on offer.

How to apply?

It’s simple and quick to become an e-resident and join our 70,000-strong community. The first step is to apply online and pay the state fee. Your application will be checked by Estonia’s Police and Border Guard, which normally takes around 30 days. If approved, they will email you and let you know when your digital ID card and e-Residency kit is ready for pickup. Once you have your digital ID, you can establish your business and start taking advantage of all that Estonia’s e-services offer. Find out more and subscribe to our newsletter at the e-Residency website.

E-Residency is readymade for remote working entrepreneurs, so at a time when many people around the world are looking to start their own small businesses or shift to freelance work online as a result of...