Source: WTO News
Headline: Working group on small business finalises MC12 draft declaration
Ambassador José Luís Cancela (Uruguay), the Coordinator of the Group, thanked members for their comments, flexibility and constructive spirit. He noted that the text has been under discussion for several months and has undergone several rounds of comments. He said that the Group should now try and build support for the initiative and invite WTO members that are not participating in the Group to endorse the Ministerial Declaration
The draft declaration states the Group’s commitment to address challenges facing MSMEs seeking to trade internationally. It recognizes the negative impact of COVID-19 on small business and the need for a global coordinated response to help MSMEs recover from the pandemic. It also takes stock of the Group’s work since it was established at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, including the adoption of a package of six recommendations and declarations in December 2020.
Implementation of the MSMEs package
Mexico updated the Group on the development of the Trade4MSMEs platform, which will bring together trade-related information that is useful for small business and policy makers. Recent work focussed on information relevant to policy makers. The Group is aiming to launch this platform at MC12.
Côte d’Ivoire updated the Group on the proposal it submitted in September to the Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance. The proposal includes a roadmap to help MSMEs gain access to trade finance. The proposal builds on the Group’s text on access to finance adopted in December 2020.
Uruguay updated the Group on the work underway to implement Annex 5 of the MSMEs package, which aims at supporting the implementation of the 2019 Decision on the WTO Integrated Database (IDB). This database is the WTO’s official source of tariff and trade-related information. The work includes efforts to submit additional information and automatic electronic transmission of tariff or import data to the IDB as per the May 2019 IDB Decision.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) updated the group on progress in updating the Global Trade Helpdesk, an online tool to help businesses and policymakers access trade data and practical information on target markets. The ITC reported that the platform has new data on tariffs, latest export potential estimates per product and step-by-step export procedures for some of the Group members covering 2021. The site has also been made available in Portuguese.
Brazil gave a presentation on the Global Trade Hub, an electronic platform for trade in services which will integrate with other national systems. The Hub is based on the “Integrated Services for MSMEs in International Trade” framework developed by the UN Economic Commission for Europe. The framework calls for the establishment of private or public-private portals to provide information on services suppliers to MSMEs.
The Canada Border Services Agency outlined the implementation of Canada’s low-value shipments policy regarding the application of customs duties and the use of a generic harmonized system to simplify tariff classification for these consignments for the benefit of small businesses.
The Coalition to Reduce Cyber Risk gave a presentation on the issue of cyber security and its impact on MSMEs. Cyber security is an area with mounting regulatory complexity and sometimes divergent laws. These different approaches can increase challenges for MSMEs. There is therefore a need for aligned policy and a consistent use of standards
Presentations by international organisations
The UN Global Compact gave a presentation on its new strategy to engage with small business. The strategy includes creating peer learning groups and building new local networks. The UN Compact also presented its new Africa strategy to expand its activities in the region. The UN Global Compact is a non-binding United Nations pact to encourage businesses and firms worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.
The United Nations Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) gave a presentation on the legislative guide on simplified business incorporation, which was adopted in June. The guide presents best practices and key principles to facilitate registration of small businesses.