NEW YORK: The global ecommerce market is expected to exceed $1.2tr by the end of 2013, with the fastest growth coming in the Middle East and North Africa, according to a new forecast.

Figures from eMarketer, the insights provider, revealed that worldwide B2C ecommerce sales will rise 17% this year, but those in MENA will increase at almost double the rate, 31%.

The region is coming from a low base, however, and its $27bn sales in 2013 account for just 2.2% of the global total.

Asia-Pacific is the next fastest growing region, up 23% in 2013 to $389bn. It is currently the second largest by value, accounting for almost a third of global ecommerce sales, but is predicted to overtake North America in 2014 to become the world's leading ecommerce market.

Within that region, China and Indonesia are the star performers, growing 65% and 71%, respectively.

Ecommerce is significantly more mature in North America and Western Europe but even here double-digit sales increases are expected. North America is the largest market, rising 12% to $419bn in 2013.

Western Europe will grow slightly faster, at 14%, to $291bn, with Italy (22.6%), Spain (16.2%) and Sweden (16.2%) returning the strongest performances.

The remaining two regions, Latin America and Central & Eastern Europe, will also post above average growth figures this year, said eMarketer, with a 22.1% uplift for the first to reach $46bn, and a 20.9% boost for the second to $49bn.

Emarketer also noted that Western Europe and North America were the only regions where a majority of the online population was also a digital buyer. This was not the case in developing markets where many internet users had yet to start buying online so it saw significant room for further growth there.

Overall, there are an estimated 1.03 billion digital buyers around the world in 2013, 44% of whom are in Asia Pacific. China is the single biggest country, with 269.4m digital buyers, followed by the US, with 155.7m.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff