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  October 10th, 2016 | Written by

WTO Report on Leveling Trading Field for SMEs

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  • WTO launches 2016 World Trade Report.
  • Participation in international trade can become more inclusive.
  • Small businesses continue to face disproportionate barriers to trade.

Reduced trade barriers, improved transportation links, information technology, and the emergence of global value chains give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the potential to become successful global traders, according to the WTO’s flagship report launched last week at the WTO Public Forum.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo delivered the opening remarks at the book launch. “SMEs are responsible for the largest share of employment opportunities in most economies — over 90 percent in some countries,” he said. “And they are big employers of women and young people. In developing countries, for example, one in three SMEs is owned by women. By enhancing SMEs’ opportunities in the global economy, we can help improve the lives of many individuals and communities. If we are to ensure that the global trading system is truly inclusive for SMEs, we must look at the challenges that they face to join trading flows and look at how we can tackle them.”

Today’s increasingly interconnected global economy is transforming what is traded and who is trading, said the report. Participation in international trade, once exclusive, can progressively become more inclusive.

The report looks at how the international trade landscape is changing for SMEs, where new opportunities are opening up and old challenges remain, and what the multilateral trading system does and can do to encourage more widespread and inclusive SME participation in global markets.

The report finds that small businesses continue to face disproportionate barriers to trade and highlights the scope for coherent national and international policy actions that would enhance the ability of SMEs to participate in world markets more effectively. It underlines that participation in trade has an important role to play in helping SMEs become more productive and grow. For open trade and global integration to fully benefit everyone, it is crucial to ensure that all firms — not just large corporations — can succeed in today’s global marketplace.

The World Trade Report is the WTO’s flagship annual publication. It aims to deepen understanding about trends in trade, trade policy issues and the multilateral trading system.