WTO Working group on small business discusses roadmap to MC12 and explores new topics.
As discussed at previous meetings, the Group is eyeing a joint Ministerial Declaration at MC12, which will take place from 30 November to 3 December 2021. The Coordinator of the Group, Ambassador José Luís Cancela (Uruguay), said he will be holding small group meetings to move discussions forward, with the aim of finalising the text before the summer.
Mexico updated the Group on the development of the Trade4MSMEs platform, which will bring together trade-related information useful for small business and policy makers. The Group is aiming to launch this platform at MC12.
Implementation of the MSMEs package
Ambassador Cancela updated the Group on work undertaken by the WTO Secretariat to develop a database containing information on small business provided by WTO members as part of their Trade Policy Review process.
In the December 2020 package of declarations and decisions, the Group adopted a recommendation which calls on members to provide, on a voluntary basis, information on policies related to MSMEs during their Trade Policy Reviews. The aim is to enhance transparency and to share information on the number of MSMEs in the economy, their share in international trade, and programmes that help MSMEs trade.
The International Finance Corporation gave a presentation on the ways supply chain finance can benefit small traders. This was followed by a presentation by dLocal, a Uruguay e-payment company, on the growing use of digital payment technology for cross-border payments and the need to standardize these processes across borders. These two issues relate to the declaration on “Access to finance and cross-border payments”, which encourages members to exchange best practices.
Relating to the same declaration, Côte d’Ivoire updated the Group on the proposal to help facilitate MSMEs’ access to trade finance, which it submitted to the Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance. The proposal puts into practice the Group’s recommendation to highlight MSME issues at other WTO committees where relevant.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development gave a presentation on the main aspects for governments to consider when developing innovation policies. The WTO Secretariat presented the key findings of the 2020 World Trade Report on “Government policies to promote innovation in the digital age”.
As a follow-up to the presentation by the Global Express Association at the February meeting of the Group, Australia presented its goods and services tax system and the way it can benefit small traders through trade facilitation at the border and lower trade costs. TechUK, a technology trade association, presented on the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of MSMEs and the ways public-private partnerships can help these firms implement better cybersecurity.
A new issue presented by Ecuador was how government policies can be put in place to encourage innovation and reduce barriers that small business faces. Another new topic, proposed by Brazil, was how to help rural MSMEs introduce efficiencies to meet the international demand for their products.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.