Recommendation on the collection and maintenance of MSME-related information (Annex 1); (For Annexes please refer to document INF/MSME/4 and Rev.2)
Recommendation on promoting MSMEs’ inclusion in regulatory development in the area of trade (Annex 4);In early 2017, a group of WTO Members calling themselves the “Friends of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs),” led by Argentina, Brazil and Chile, successfully launched an informal dialogue on how the WTO could support the integration of MSMEs into international trade.
At the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in December 2017, Canada and 86 other WTO Members issued a Joint Ministerial Statement establishing an informal work program on MSMEs, which is still ongoing. Sessions of the Informal Working Group are open to any WTO member that wishes to attend or participate.
The group aims to address the burdensome barriers faced by MSMEs trying to engage in international trade – and widen the discussion on these issues at a multilateral level.
The Informal Working Group on MSMEs is not yet a negotiating group and remains both voluntary and non-binding. It covers a range of cross-cutting issues faced by a variety of members at all levels of development. Since its founding mandate the group set out to, and continues to discuss:
- improved access to information;
- ways to promote a more predictable regulatory environment;
- reduction of trade costs, including areas such as trade facilitation, shipping and logistics, and procedures and requirements related to origin; promotion, including through cooperation with other multilateral institutions, of better access to trade finance
- identification of issues of particular interest that could be addressed in WTO Trade Policy reports;
- consideration of how technical assistance and capacity building initiatives could consider the trade needs and challenges of MSMEs and
- using the Internet as a tool for MSMEs to access global markets.
In May 2020, members of the Informal Working Group released a WTO statement acknowledging the particular impact that the COVID-19 pandemic was having on MSMEs around the world and pledged to make efforts to be transparent and take measures to support MSMEs. In December 2020, The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) adopted a package of six recommendations and declarations aimed at addressing the unique challenges faced by MSMEs in international trade. Below is the list of recommendations and declarations that compose the package:
1.MSME-related information in WTO Trade Policy Reviews:
The recommendation calls on WTO members to provide, on a voluntary basis, information on policies related to MSMEs during their WTO Trade Policy Reviews to enhance transparency and to be a source of good practices (e.g., number of MSMEs in the economy and their share in international trade or programmes that support MSMEs to trade).
2. Access to information:
Members are encouraged to support the Global Trade Helpdesk, a tool led by the International Trade Centre, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the WTO to help MSMEs access market intelligence, including on tariffs and regulations.
3. Trade facilitation for MSMEs:
Burdensome customs procedures are especially hard on MSMEs. The Group is calling on WTO members to fully implement the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, exchange experiences to identify and promote good practices that can help MSMEs, and consider adopting digital customs procedures to ease these difficulties.
4. Promoting MSME inclusion in regulatory development:
New trade regulations can have unintended consequences for businesses, especially for MSMEs. Members are encouraged to analyse potential impacts for smaller businesses and consult with MSMEs before implementing new trade regulations.
5. Supporting implementation of the 2019 Decision on the WTO Integrated Database:
The Integrated Database (IDB) is the WTO’s official source of tariff and trade-related information. By keeping the IDB up to date, WTO members can help MSMEs access reliable and comprehensive information on tariffs and other market access data. This recommendation supports the voluntary submission of additional information and automatic electronic transmission of members’ tariff or import data to the IDB as per the May 2019 IDB Decision.
6. Access to finance and cross-border payments:
Access to finance and cross-border payments are major challenges for the engagement of MSMEs in trade. The Group calls on members to share best practices with a view to identifying concrete measures.
In the run up to MC12, a coordinator’s report recapping key activities and outcomes achieved by the IWG since its establishment at MC11 was released. Looking ahead, the IWG aims to:
- Focus on issues of core significance for MSMEs and identify actions that promote MSMEs’ participation in international trade
- Monitor implementation of the December 2020 package and pursue work based on the Buenos Aires Joint Ministerial Statement.
- With support of the WTO Secretariat and other multilateral institutions, invite IWG members to share good practices in areas of interest and organize workshops and information sessions
- Meet twice a year, promote effective coordination and information exchange on MSME-related issues with other WTO regular working bodies; members to do their best to promote MSME-related discussions in regular bodies; share information on IWG’s work and discussions and reach out to other members to join the Group
- Continue the existing dialogue with private sector.
- Support MSMEs in their efforts to manage the impact of, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative is currently coordinated by Ambassador Matthew Wilson of Barbados. Previously, Ambassador Jose-Luis Cancela of Uruguay coordinated the Group from February 2018 through April 2023. Prior to that in the lead-up to MC11 in Buenos Aires through January 2018, discussions were led by Chile’s Ambassador to the WTO, H.E. Mr Hector Casanueva. As of March 2023, there were 98 WTO members participating in discussions of the Informal Working Group. These participants cover all regions of the world and all levels of development, accounting for around 90 per cent of world exports. The Group is currently comprised of the following Members:
|Albania||Ecuador||Lao PDR||Russian Federation|
|Antigua and Barbuda||El Salvador||Liechtenstein||Saint|
|Argentina||European Union||Macao, China||Kitts and Nevis|
|Armenia||The Gambia||Malaysia||Saint Lucia|
|Australia||Georgia||Mexico||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Bahrain, Kingdom of||Grenada||Moldova, Republic of||Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of|
|Brunei Darussalam||Hong Kong, China||New Zealand||Tajikistan|
|China||Israel||North Macedonia||United Arab Emirates|
|Costa Rica||Kazakhstan||Pakistan||United States of America|
|Dominica||Korea, Republic of||Philippines||Viet Nam|
- Declaration on the Establishment of a WTO Informal Work Programme for MSMEs, December 2017
- Statement on Highlighting the Importance of MSMEs in the Time of COVID-19, May 2020
- Digital Champions for Small Business: Call for Proposals, June 2021
- Coordinator’s document on presentations provided to the Informal Working Group (from 18 February 2021 to 7 April 2022), March 2023
- MSME Group Coordinator’s Summary Document 2018-2023, March 2023
- United Kingdom’s submission on supporting women-owned MSMEs, June 2023
- Coordinator’s communication on the second annual Trade4MSMEs Network meeting, July 2023
WTO - MSMEs Group discusses digitalization, access to finance for women-owned small businesses Digitalization was a recurring theme in discussions at a meeting of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 3 July. Various organizations provided information on digital standards, the advantages of gaining the status of “authorised economic operator”, financial inclusion and sustainable agriculture value chains, with the aim of keeping policymakers informed about ongoing work to support small businesses. In addition, the United Kingdom submitted a communication on exploring best practices aimed at supporting access to finance for women-owned small businesses.
WTO - Working Group announces Small Business Champions, Trade4MSMEs update and new Trade Game The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 27 June commemorated MSME Day by announcing three new small business champions, unveiling a revamped Trade4MSMEs platform and releasing “The Trade Game” intended to help MSMEs navigate the complexities of international trade. A panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges for smallholder farmers in international trade was also held.
WTO - Coordinator's summary of second open-ended meeting of MSME's Informal Group The MSME Informal Group met for its second open-ended meeting of the year on 26 April 2023.
WTO - Small business group appoints new coordinator, discusses digitalisation, finance and standards The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 26 April discussed the benefits of digitalisation for small business, the role of intellectual property rights in facilitating small business access to finance, and how MSMEs deal with sustainability standards. The Group appointed Ambassador Matthew Wilson of Barbados as its new coordinator.
WTO - WTO - Coordinator's summary of first open-ended meeting of MSME's Informal Group The MSME Informal Group met for its first open-ended meeting of the year on 26 April 2023.
Working group on small business approves work program, issues a call for papers The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) approved on 13 March the Group’s new work program. The Group also agreed to issue a call for papers on MSMEs provisions in RTAs, which will inform the Group’s work in this area.
WTO - Group on small business discusses implementation of 2020 recommendations, future work At a meeting of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), held on 12 October, WTO members reflected on how they can advance their work on helping small businesses better engage in international trade. Members also reviewed the implementation of the December 2020 package of recommendations.
WTO - Working group on small business reflects on way forward post MC12 At a meeting of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), held on 15 July, WTO members reflected on which topics the group could explore further as part of its future workplan after the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12). The Group welcomed Tajikistan as a new participant, bringing the total number of WTO members taking part in the initiative to 94.
WTO - Working group highlights progress in integrating small businesses into international trade The achievements of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) were highlighted in a report launched by the coordinator of the Group, Ambassador José-Luis Cancela, on 12 June in the margins of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12). The report outlines progress achieved by the Group since it was created in 2017 and sets out the Group’s roadmap for helping more small businesses benefit from international trade.
WTO - Working group on small business launches Trade4MSMEs network The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 8 June launched the Trade4MSMEs network, a partnership of international organizations aimed at improving the capacity of MSMEs to participate in world trade and promoting collaboration among members of the network.
WTO - Working group on small business welcomes three more members At its first meeting of the year, on 8 February, the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) welcomed Georgia, the Gambia, and Macao, China, to the Group, bringing the total number of WTO members participating in the initiative to 94. Participants heard an update on the recently launched Trade4MSMEs platform and discussed various issues facing MSMEs.
WTO - Working group on small business launches Trade4MSMEs platform The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 2 December launched the Trade4MSMEs platform, a tool aimed at helping small companies find trade-related information that improves their ability to trade internationally. The platform will also help policymakers design measures tailored to the needs of small companies.
WTO - Working group on small business discusses preparations for MC12 At their last meeting before the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), members of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 8 November reviewed the group’s plans for MC12, including the launch of the Trade4MSMEs platform. The aim of the platform is to provide trade-related information to small businesses seeking to reach international markets and relevant information for policy makers.
WTO - Final Draft MC12 Declaration on MSME's Circulated In a communication dated the 22nd of October, the proponents of the MSME's initiative circulated an unrestricted version of their final draft declaration for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference.
WTO - Coordinated global response key to MSMEs’ post-pandemic economic recovery Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang highlighted the importance of targeted policies and a coordinated global response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
WTO - Public Forum discusses how to help small businesses become more resilient Representatives of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) shared stories of resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic at a session held on 30 September at the Public Forum. Following a keynote speech delivered by International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton, panellists reflected on how to help small businesses adapt to changing trade realities, become more resilient and engage more effectively in global value chains.
WTO - Working group on small business finalises MC12 draft declaration Members of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) announced on 24 September that the Group has finalized a draft ministerial declaration for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in late November.
WTO - Working group on small business close to finalizing ministerial declaration Members of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) on 26 July moved closer to a final draft ministerial declaration for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12). The Group also reviewed the implementation of the package of declarations and recommendations for MSMEs adopted in December 2020. New topics, such as intellectual property rights and innovation in relation to MSMEs, were also discussed.
WTO - Call for proposals for “Digital Champions for Small Business” initiative The “Digital Champions for Small Business “ initiative was launched today (25 June 2021) at a joint event hosted by the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The aim of the initiative is to help small businesses go digital and increase their participation in international trade. Proposals on how to help MSMEs address the difficulties they face with digital trade should be submitted by 15 September 2021.
WTO - Working group on small business reviews draft ministerial declaration At a meeting of the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), held on 24 June, WTO members discussed a draft ministerial declaration, a key element in the Group’s preparations for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12). They also looked at implementation of the package of declarations and recommendations for MSMEs adopted in December 2020.
WTO - Working group discusses roadmap to MC12 and explores new topics At a meeting of the Informal Working Group on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), held on 4 May, WTO members discussed what the Group aims to deliver at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) and explored new topics to help small business benefit from international trade. The Group also looked at the implementation of the package of declarations and decisions adopted in December 2020.
WTO - Working group on small business reflects on topics for 2021 workplan At the first meeting of the year for the Informal Working Group on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), held on 18 February, WTO members reflected on how to implement the package of declarations and recommendations agreed in December 2020 and what new issues the group would like to tackle in the year ahead.
WTO - Coordinators of joint initiatives cite substantial progress in discussions The coordinators of the joint initiatives on e-commerce, investment facilitation, services domestic regulation and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) said on 18 December that substantial progress has been achieved in their respective discussions and that they are on track to deliver concrete results or additional progress at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) scheduled for next year.
WTO - Package of declarations and recommendations adopted to help small businesses trade globally The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) officially adopted at its meeting on 11 December a package of six recommendations and declarations aimed at addressing challenges smaller businesses face when they trade internationally. The package will be presented to all WTO members at a meeting of Heads of Delegation on 14 December.
WTO - Working group finalises package of declarations and recommendations to assist small business The Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) finalised the technical work on a package of six recommendations and declarations aimed at facilitating the participation of smaller businesses in international trade at its meeting on 5 November. This package will be officially endorsed in December this year.
WTO - World MSME Day: DG Azevêdo cites WTO members’ progress in helping small businesses Addressing a workshop organized by the Informal Working Group on MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) on world MSME Day (27 June), Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said that efforts by many WTO members have brought the MSME perspective to the fore. He cited progress in working with partners to increase trade finance opportunities for MSMEs. He also highlighted how implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement will ease small businesses’ participation in global markets by cutting trade costs and reducing administrative burdens.
WTO - DDG Wolff: MSMEs need your support and they need action Speaking at the first open-ended meeting of the Informal Group on MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) on 27 March, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff emphasized the importance of access to information for small companies that want to trade internationally. He urged the group to call on WTO members to take concrete actions at the national level to improve access to information and concluded: “Exploring challenges and discussing issues are important; tangible results, however, are essential”. Here is what he said.
WTO - Azevêdo: MSMEs are now at the heart of the trade debate Speaking at the invitation of the Friends of MSMEs at a meeting on 30 January, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said that the launch of the Informal Working Group on MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) was one of the highlights of the Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires. “It is hugely impressive,” he said, “that the group has now reached 88 members — drawn from all regions of the globe and all levels of development.” He urged the group to remain open and inclusive, adding: “This work has come a long way in a very short space of time. Let’s see how far it can go.”
WTO - New initiatives on electronic commerce, investment facilitation and MSMEs Three proponent groups announced new initiatives to advance talks at the WTO on the issues of electronic commerce, investment facilitation and micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs). The announcements were made on 13 December during the final day of the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.
OECD - OECD SME and Entrepreneurship Outlook 2021 Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs have been hit hard during the COVID-19 crisis. Policy responses were quick and unprecedented, helping cushion the blow and maintain most SMEs and entrepreneurs afloat. Despite the magnitude of the shock, available data so far point to sustained start-ups creation, no wave of bankruptcies, and an impulse to innovation in most OECD countries. However, government support has been less effective at reaching the self-employed, smaller and younger firms, women, and entrepreneurs from minorities. Countries were not all even in their capacity to support SMEs either. As vaccine campaigns roll out and economic prospects brighten, governments have to take the turn of a crisis exit and create the conditions to build back better. The OECD SME and Entrepreneurship Outlook 2021 brings new evidence on the impact of the crisis and policy responses on SMEs and entrepreneurs. It reflects on longer-term issues, such as SME indebtedness or SME role in more resilient supply chains or innovation diffusion. The report contains country profiles that benchmark impact, factors of vulnerability, and sources of resilience in OECD countries, and give a policy spotlight on liquidity support and recovery plans for SMEs.
ICSB - Annual Global Micro Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Report Th report covers a range of submitted papers from many countries, institutions,
organizations, and individuals, which will comprise a collaborative and complete record of the current status of MSMEs. This comprehensive report seeks to amplify the essential findings and events of this year in history for MSMEs.
ITC - SME Competitiveness Outlook 2021: Empowering the Green Recovery The SME Competitiveness Outlook 2021 analyses how small businesses can rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic so they are prepared to face the looming climate crisis. It provides a 20-point Green Recovery Plan to foster competitive, resilient and environmentally sustainable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The report finds that small firms are less resilient to shocks – whether the pandemic or climate change – because they do not have key business fundamentals in place. The report identifies key areas where small businesses with limited resources can invest to seize opportunities of the green transition – and what business support organizations, governments, lead firms in value chains and international organizations can do to empower small firms to be competitive, resilient and sustainable.
OECD - Trade in the time of parcels More parcels are crossing international borders than ever before. While this has given rise to new opportunities, not least for individuals and SMEs who are now more directly engaged in trade, it is also raising new challenges. This paper explores this complex and evolving environment, identifying the types of goods that are traded as parcels and the different actors along the parcels supply chain, as well as the policies to help ensure that parcels get to where they are needed.
IISD & CUTS - Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Key developments and update in the Informal Working Group discussions among World Trade Organization members Authors: Julian Mukiibi and Leslie Sajous
This report builds on an earlier brief covering the Informal Working Group (IWG) on Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises' (MSMEs) work since its inception and incorporates some of the key considerations involving gender equality and social inclusion. The authors note the policy responses at the national, regional, and international levels to help MSMEs affected by the pandemic. Lastly, the brief summarizes some of the immediate next steps for the IWG, particularly in the lead-up to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Twelfth Ministerial Conference.
ITC - SME Competitiveness Outlook 2020 - COVID-19: the Great Lockdown and its Effects of Small Business The SME Competitiveness Outlook 2020 analyses the impact of the pandemic on small firms, international supply chains and trade. It provides projections and a 15-point action plan for businesses, policymakers and business support organizations to weather the crisis – and gear up for a ‘new normal’ that needs to be resilient, digital, inclusive and sustainable. The report combines analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on firms based on a large-scale global survey, with case studies and a thought leader viewpoint. The projected drop in supply chain trade is evaluated by region, and in 85 country profiles.
UNIDO - Guiding MSMEs’ business recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic To help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) identify potential issues arising from the health crisis and get down to solving them as quickly as possible, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has published “Guidance for MSMEs business recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
CUTS - MSME Perspectives in Trade Agreements and the WTO: Lessons for MSME JSI Since co-signing a joint statement in at the 11th WTO ministerial conference on establishing an Informal Work Programme for MSMEs, a group of 89 WTO members have started considering challenges faced by MSMEs through meetings since last year. The members will ultimately work towards establishing a formal work programme for MSMEs at the next Ministerial Conference. This note provides an overview of the group and the work undertaken so far, including on issues such as access to information and markets.
IISD & CUTS - History and latest developments in the Informal Working Group This brief provides an overview of the WTO-related discussions on MSMEs in recent years, with a particular focus on the work undertaken since the last Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2017. It outlines the current state of play as of late March 2020, while providing a detailed overview of the themes addressed to date in those informal discussions and what outcomes have been proposed.
CUTS - Initiative to Enhance MSME Participation in International Trade: Challenges and Opportunities in the Context of the WTO In recognition of the role performed by MSMEs in many economies, a group of WTO Member countries through a Joint Ministerial Statement at the 11th Ministerial Conference of Buenos Aires, established an Informal Work Programme (IWG) for MSMEs. The informal working group seeks to achieve horizontal and non-discriminatory solutions so as to yield benefits for the participation of MSMEs in international trade, considering specific needs of developing countries and LDCs. This briefing paper summarises findings from a recent CUTS study which highlights the challenges and opportunities for promoting integration of MSMEs in international trade.
CUTS - Whitepaper on Enhancing MSME Participation in Trade: Considerations for the WTO Informal Work Programme for MSMEs This whitepaper seeks to provide a birds-eye perspective on the growing role of MSMEs in the context of WTO and as such aims to support Governments and other stakeholders in advancing their interests in MSME related discussions in WTO context. The paper first provides a wider perspective on MSMEs in international fora, then introduces the reader to some of the specific challenges and opportunities for MSMEs (particularly in developing countries and LDC’s) in international trade, whilst providing high-level recommendations for possible priority areas as a basis for constructive engagement in a WTO context.
CUTS - Barriers for MSMEs to Export at Regional and International Level: Views of MSMEs from Africa and Asia Micro, Small and Medium sized Enterprises (MSMEs) play very important role in economic development, sustainable livelihoods, industrialisation and employment creation. They employ a wide range of people including the most vulnerable such as women and youth. Based on stakeholder interviews conducted in various developing and least developed countries in Asia and Africa, this paper reflects on the challenges face by the MSME exporters in those parts of the world.
CUTS - Integrating Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in International Trade This note explores the benefits and barriers of engaging with international trade through the lens of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). It concludes with some possible solutions that could result in addressing the barriers and better integration of SMEs and MSMEs in the global economy.
WTO - World Trade Report 2016: Levelling the trading field for SMEs The 2016 World Trade Report examines the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in international trade, how the international trade landscape is changing for SMEs, and what the multilateral trading system does and can do to encourage more widespread and inclusive SME participation in global markets.
Final Draft Declaration on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME's) - For MC12
Circulated in unrestricted format on 22 October 2021 in WTO document WT/MIN(21)/1.
We, the Heads of Delegations representing the following Members of the WTO: Afghanistan; Albania; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Armenia; Australia; Bahrain, Kingdom of; Belize; Brazil; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Côte d’Ivoire; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; European Union; Grenada; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Israel; Japan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Korea, Republic of; Kyrgyz Republic; Lao PDR; Liechtenstein; Malaysia; Mexico; Moldova, Republic of; Mongolia; Montenegro; Myanmar; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Nigeria; North Macedonia; Norway; Pakistan; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Qatar; Russian Federation; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of; Singapore; Switzerland; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom; Uruguay; and Viet Nam,
Acknowledging that the integration of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in international trade enhances their contribution to the economic development of WTO Members, as sources of job creation, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth; Stressing that promotion of the participation of MSMEs in international trade is therefore an important issue in the WTO agenda; Recalling the centrality of the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core, to foster a transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory, and predictable global trade environment that supports and enhances MSMEs involvement in international trade; Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on MSMEs and that a coordinated global response remains necessary to help MSMEs respond and recover from that impact; Reaffirming our pledge, as contained in our Joint Ministerial Statement at Buenos Aires1, to address obstacles related to foreign trade operations that represent a significant burden for MSMEs interested in participating in international trade; Reiterating our resolve to favour horizontal and non-discriminatory solutions which are likely to yield benefits for the participation of MSMEs in international trade, taking into account the specific needs of developing Members and least developed countries; Desiring to support the consideration of MSME-related issues in the regular work of WTO bodies and any other relevant work in the WTO;
Recommendations and Declarations
1. Welcome the work of the WTO Informal Working Group on MSMEs since the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2017 and the adoption on 11 December 2020 of a package ( INF/MSME/4 and Rev.2) including the following six recommendations and declarations:
Declaration on access to information (Annex 2);
Recommendation on trade facilitation and MSMEs (Annex 3);
Recommendation on promoting MSMEs’ inclusion in regulatory development in the area of trade (Annex 4);
Recommendation on MSMES and the WTO Integrated Database (Annex 5);
Declaration on addressing the trade-related aspects of MSMEs’ access to finance and cross-border payments (Annex 6) .
2. Welcome the launch of the Trade4MSMEs Platform and encourage sustaining and developing the Platform in partnership with key international organizations working on MSME and trade-related issues.
3. MSME RTA and TPR Databases
3. Welcome the establishment of the MSME Regional Trade Agreements and Trade Policy Review databases available on the WTO webpage.
4. Declare that:
The work of the Informal Working Group on MSMEs (the IWG) shall focus on issues of core significance to MSMEs and shall identify actions that could be taken to promote MSMEs’ participation in international trade, including fostering exchanges of good practices on how to best take into account MSMEs needs in domestic rulemaking.
The IWG will continue monitoring the progress of implementation of the recommendations and declarations set out in paragraph 1.
The IWG will pursue its work on the basis of the Buenos Aires Joint Ministerial Statement ( WT/MIN(17)/58/Rev.1 ), recommendations and declarations set out in paragraph 1 and will consider proposals submitted by members as well as any other inputs the IWG deems relevant in consistence with paragraph 4.1. We take note of the presentations made to the IWG, without prejudice to the position of IWG members.
We invite IWG members, with the support of the WTO Secretariat and relevant multilateral institutions as needed, to exchange good practices in areas of interest to the Group and to organize workshops and information sessions as appropriate.
The IWG shall meet at least twice a year and may hold additional meetings as appropriate.
The IWG shall promote effective coordination and information exchange on MSME-related issues with the other WTO regular working bodies, and IWG members shall do their best to promote MSME-related discussions within those bodies.
The IWG will continue to periodically share with the membership information on its work and discussions at the HoDs, General Council and the Ministerial Conference as well as to reach out to other Members in order to invite them to join the Group in light of the value of our initiative.
The IWG and its members should continue the existing dialogue with the private sector to ensure its work remains relevant for MSMEs.
MSME Contribution to Covid-19 Recovery
5. Express support for MSMEs in their efforts to manage the impact of, and recover from, the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a first response to the COVID-19 crisis, several IWG members circulated a “Statement on highlighting the importance of MSMEs in the time of COVID-19” on 14 May 2020 ( WT/GC/215 and Rev.1) .2 Looking ahead, the IWG is determined to foster a better understanding of how MSMEs can participate in international trade as a path to recovery considering not only the benefits MSMEs may derive from increased access to third markets but also because many MSMEs rely on imports in their activities.
The IWG will continue to support the WTO playing an active role in promoting open trade as well as resilient and sustainable value chains, which are essential to MSMEs’ economic recovery after the pandemic.
As a transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory, and predictable global trade environment is crucial for MSMEs to make the most of trade opportunities, especially in these COVID-19 trying times, the IWG will encourage raising awareness and promoting the use of platforms facilitating MSMEs’ access to information. The IWG members will support the WTO Secretariat in its monitoring and information collection efforts, including on COVID-19 trade related measures. At the same time, the IWG will continue inviting members to fulfil their commitments regarding transparency, as a means to promote overall transparency for MSMEs and a more predictable regulatory environment, and to facilitate MSMEs’ effective participation in global trade.