Statement on highlighting the importance of MSMES in the time of COVID-19

The following  statement,  dated  May 14, 2020,  is  being  circulated  at  the  request  of  the  following Members: Afghanistan; Albania;Argentina;  Australia;  Brazil;  Canada;  Chile;  China;  Colombia; CostaRica;Côte d’Ivoire; Ecuador; El Salvador; European Union; Guatemala; Guyana;Honduras; Hong Kong, China; Israel; Japan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Korea, Republic of; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Liechtenstein; Malaysia; Maldives; Mexico; Moldova, Republic of; Mongolia; Montenegro; Myanmar;  New  Zealand;  North  Macedonia;  Norway;  Paraguay;  Philippines;Qatar;  Russian Federation; SaudiArabia, Kingdom of; Singapore; Switzerland; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom; Uruguay; Vanuatu.

1.1. We note the significant negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our citizens and our businesses, in particular on those that operate as Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in economies at all levels of development. We recognize that addressing this global health crisis and economic shock requires a coordinated global response to stabilize our economies and to help MSMEs affected during this challenging period.

1.2. In  this  regard,  we  commend  the  actions  taken  by  many  WTO Members  to  address  the immediate  challenges  faced  by  workers  and  businesses  alike,  in  particular  MSMEs,  during  these difficult times.

1.3.  We will  continue  careful  monitoring  of  all  MSME-related  developments.  We  will  take  further action where necessary to help MSMEs’ involvement in international trade and promote that supply chains  remain  open  and  connected.  In  cooperation  with  other  international  organizations  and stakeholders, we will look to explore solutions and share good practices to facilitate trade, accelerate efforts   towards   trade   digitalization,   including   access   to   digital   tools,   as   well   as   improve MSMEs’access to trade finance and to trade-related information through online platforms.

1.4. We reaffirm our support for the central role of the WTO in international trade. We will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, predictable, and stabletrade environment and to keep our markets open with a view to support the global recovery. We invite the WTO Secretariat to continue working  closely  with  other  international  organisations  to  facilitate  MSMEs’  participation  in international trade.

1.5. It  is  clear  that  timely  and  accurate  information  on  COVID-related  trade  measures  reduces uncertainty  and  allows  MSMEs  to  make  informed  decisions.  We  therefore  encourage  Members  to continue informing and updating the WTO, as soon as practicable, of any trade-related COVID-19 measures they implement in order to ensure transparency and predictability.

1.6 .We will continue our efforts to deepen and multilateralise MSME conversations at the WTO, for the benefit of our MSMEs and our economies. We will work together to help MSMEs overcome this crisis, and build resilience to future shocks.