Measuring Digital Trade

Updated: November 17, 2021

Measure Better

Due to the pandemic and related lockdowns across the world, there has been an increase in services and goods ordered and delivered online.

The digital economy is growing. Thanks to technological advancements in international trade, businesses and consumers have increasingly turned online for purchases, and the demand for digital services—including online entertainment, education, and digital applications for work—has gone up.

Many of these behavioural changes are expected to be long-term.

There is widespread agreement that digital trade’s contribution to the Canadian economy is increasing, and that international trade is growing. But classifying and measuring the opportunities and challenges of digital trade is difficult.

Questions we asked:

  • What is digital trade? Why does it matter?
  • Why is it important to measure digital trade?
  • How does Canada measure and record digital trade now?
  • What needs to change?
  • How do other countries measure and report digital trade?

Related economic research

See our latest releases for digital trade.

What’s the challenge?

There’s still no consensus on what economic activities are covered under this broad term, or what the barriers to digital trade are. This lack of clarity leads to multiple interpretations, creates difficulties in identifying the right measurement tools, and can limit the data’s usefulness.

Inaccurate and incomplete data make it difficult for governments to shape trade policies around globalization and technology and for businesses to make strategic choices.

If digital trade policy is based on incomplete evidence, taxes may not be accurately collected, businesses may be working in the wrong direction, and statistics may not be comparable internationally.

Where is Canada in capturing value generated by cross-border digital trade, and how can it measure better?

Recent releases

Choosing the Right Ruler: Approaches to Measuring Digital Trade

The pandemic and related lockdowns across the world have increased the volume of digital trade. Even within Canada, there is evidence of digital trade being on the upswing and, in general, Canadians turning to online for purchasing goods and services.

Spokesperson: Swapna Nair

Impact paper  |  36-min read
November 17, 2021

Future of Supply Chains


December 10, 2021

Retail report


December 16, 2021

Arts report


January 25, 2021

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