Digital Commerce online course

Digital Commerce online course

The Digital Commerce online course provides an interdisciplinary coverage of digital commerce, from both digital and trade perspectives. It builds the knowledge and capacity of participants to engage in digital commerce-related negotiations and discussions on the multilateral and bilateral levels. It is aimed at diplomats, in particular those based in Geneva, staff of trade-related international organisations, and capital-based officials, from developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs). The course is offered by DiploFoundation (Diplo), the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).


What will you learn?

  • Enabling issues: e-signatures and authentication, digital identities, and paperless trading.
  • Cross-border data flows and data localisation.
  • Online consumer protection and privacy.
  • Access to the source code.
  • The status of e-commerce at the WTO.
  • Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs), Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) and their impact on digital commerce. 

How will you learn?

In this course you will interact intensively in discussions with classmates and lecturers from around the world. You will receive guidance, and personalised feedback on your classwork, from the course team.

How long will you learn?

The course lasts for 6 weeks:

  • 1 week of course introduction and orientation to online learning
  • 5 weeks of addressing the course topics one by one (see below for more details)

Who should apply

The course will be of interest to:

  • Diplomats from developing countries and LDCs who follow digital trade negotiations.
  • Capital-based officials and policy-makers from developing countries and LDCs, in particular those responsible for developing national policies on digital trade.
  • Staff from developing countries and LDCs working at trade-related international organisations.


The course consists of 5 modules:

  • Placing digital commerce in the context of the digital economy. We present some definitions of the digital economy and unpack the meaning of frequently used expressions such as ‘digital transformation’, ‘4th industrial revolution’, and ‘data economy’. We discuss how digitisation has affected the production, marketing, sale, distribution and delivery of goods and services, particularly focusing on the role of online platforms.
  • Digital commerce discussions at the World Trade Organization. The WTO plays an important role in facilitating diplomatic talks about digital commerce within the framework of the multilateral trading system. We summarise the evolution of WTO discussions on e-commerce, including the outcomes of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2024.
  • The dynamics of e-commerce rulemaking: regional trade agreements and Digital Economy Agreements. We present an overview of how e-commerce is addressed in the context of main regional trade agreements (RTAs), exploring key provisions. We also discuss the growing importance of Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) and provide examples of issues they tackle.
  • Openness and digital commerce. We focus on cross-border data flows and localisation, which are core issues for the growth of the digital economy. We discuss what localisation policies mean from technical and policy angles and analyse provisions on data flows which are present in some key regional trade agreements. We also touch upon some enabling issues and trade facilitation. 
  • Promoting trust in e-commerce. We focus on how agreements and negotiations seek to enhance consumer and business trust by tackling specific issues, such as consumer protection, privacy, and limiting requests to access or transfer the source code of computer programs.


The Digital Commerce course is extremely useful for negotiators involved in e-commerce discussions at the WTO, as well as for policymakers and advisors. At the end of the course, one clearly understands that e-commerce rules should not be seen through the lens of shopping electronically, but rather as a trade arm of the emerging digital economy which is underpinned by new technologies such as cloud computing, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and 3-D printing.

– Mr Edouard Bizumuremyi, Commercial Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Rwanda, Geneva


The course provided an interdisciplinary approach relevant to the current plurilateral negotiations taking place at the WTO on trade-related issues relating to e-commerce, and the tools to better understand the processes taking place in Geneva on digital economy issues. The course has given me the opportunity to share Paraguay’s national experience and learn from other countries that are harnessing the power of the digital revolution for their development.

– Ms Veronica Bogarín Closs, First Secretary, Delegate to the WTO, Permanent Mission of Paraguay to the WTO, Geneva


The Digital Commerce course has been an excellent source of information and up-to-date knowledge on the various paradigms of digital commerce. For developing countries like Pakistan, such capacity building opportunities are mandatory to stay updated with the latest developments and innovations in the digital world.

– Mr Waqas Hassan, Assistant Director, International Liaison & Training, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority

Course lecturers

Jovan Kurbalija

Executive Director, Diplo

Marília Maciel

Head of Digital Commerce & Internet Policy, Diplo

 Face, Head, Person, Photography, Portrait, Accessories, Formal Wear, Tie, Adult, Male, Man, Clothing, Suit, People

Quan Zhao

Senior Programme Officer, Market Development Division, International Trade Centre

Ms Yasmin Ismail

Yasmin Ismail

Senior Policy Advisor, Trade, Climate and SDGs at the Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs

Kholofelo Kugler

PhD Fellow, project Trade Law 4.0, University of Lucerne

Javier Ruiz Diaz

Senior Advisor on Digital Rights at Consumers International


The Digital Commerce course is based on a collaborative learning approach, involving a high level of interaction over a period of 6 weeks. Reading materials and the necessary tools for online interaction are provided in a virtual classroom.

The course will run from 18 March to 26 April 2024, using a dynamic online learning methodology. 

Throughout each course week, participants will read course materials and interact in an online classroom. During the class Zoom meeting each Friday,  the course faculty will clarify pending issues and discuss ongoing policy processes with participants. Participants who complete the course successfully will receive a course certificate issued by partner institutions.


Applicants for this course should have basic knowledge of trade and digital commerce policies and negotiations.

Fees and scholarships

The course fee is 590 EUR. Selected applicants from developing and least developed countries will be granted a full waiver of course fees through support from the course organising partners.

How to apply

Please apply online by 7 March 2024, starting from this short application form. After completing this short form, you will receive an email with a link to the full application form.

Please do not forget to fill out the short motivation statement on the application form (100 - 150 words) explaining the reasons for your interest in this course. What are your personal and professional objectives for the future, and how will this course help you to reach them?

Late applications will be considered only if places remain in the course.

For questions, please contact Ms Marilia Maciel at