MEMBERS of the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s informal working group on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have released a package of recommendations and declarations to support budding businesses to strengthen their engagement in international trade.
The WTO held a dedicated event on 15 December 2020 to present the package to the private sector and prompt discussion on implementing the policies.
“This new package sends a strong and concrete message of support and commitment from governments and the WTO to continue working towards a more inclusive trading system, which places MSME resilience at the centre of the recovery,” Pamela Coke-Hamilton, executive director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) said.
The package, endorsed by the 91 member economies of the WTO informal working group on MSMEs, consists of six recommendations and declarations on crucial issues for small businesses.
These include: collecting and maintaining information related to MSMEs, access to information, trade facilitation, promoting MSME inclusion in regulatory development, MSMEs and the WTO integrated database, addressing trade-related aspects of MSMEs and access to finance and cross-border payments.
By making progress in these areas, governments will ensure that MSMEs are at the heart of their policy making efforts and economic recovery strategies. The focus on smaller firms is particularly timely as the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted MSMEs worldwide.
“For MSMEs, as they often struggle to participate in international trade and have been hit hard by the pandemic, by endorsing this package, we show them that we care and stand ready to help them,” said Ambassador José Luis Cancela of Uruguay, who is also the coordinator of the WTO informal working group on MSMEs.
As firms continue to face uncertainty resulting from rapidly shifting global market conditions, access to information is vital for making the most of emerging opportunities in the global marketplace.
The declaration on access to information recognizes the importance of the Global Help Desk as an integrated source of trade information from across 11 partner agencies designed to meet the needs of smaller firms.
The platform simplifies market research by providing access to information about demand, market access conditions such as tariffs and regulations, export and import procedures, and more in one accessible platform.
The online platform was rolled out at the end of June 2020 and it continues to attract a growing number of users. Governments also committed to continuing to provide MSMEs with the most robust and complete information available.
The package builds on a declaration made by the WTO informal working group on MSMEs at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires in 2017.
The Global Trade Helpdesk Initiative, which was announced at MC11, is led by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the WTO, ITC and the WTO informal working group on MSMEs.
Both the Global Trade Helpdesk and the WTO informal working group on MSMEs have matured in the last three years with complementary and concrete deliverables.