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Businessman using laptop

Today (27 June) the WTO celebrates the work and contribution of small and growing businesses around the world.

The WTO’s efforts to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are focused on MSME Day 2023 in Geneva and include the relaunch of its online portal to support more MSMEs to engage in international trade as well as a new interactive trade game to allow all traders, regardless of size or sector, to explore some of the issues involved with global trade.

Revised web resources

The new Trade4MSMEs website is intended to act as a hub for MSMEs, offering them guides and resources on all relevant practical aspects of international trade. But the site is also aimed at becoming somewhere policymakers can go to keep up to date with the needs and interests of MSMEs. 

Hunter Matson, trade and policy research specialist at the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) explains why it is important to promote greater global trade activity among MSMEs:

“MSMEs account for over 90% of firms worldwide and employ 60% of the global workforce, but they contribute less than half the volume of international trade.”

Matson adds that research has found that limited access to information has been a significant barrier preventing MSMEs from engaging with international partners.

Having initially launched its Trade4MSMEs platform in 2021, last year the WTO formed a partnership with IOE&IT to revamp and update the site’s design and content.

“Trade4MSMEs provides the information that supports MSMEs to trade internationally. Its purpose is to guide businesses through the intricacies of global trade and offer policymakers insights into the unique challenges faced by MSMEs.”

Along with a revised set of guides to help MSME owners who are considering starting their journey into international trade, Trade4MSME’s relaunch also introduces a section offering information and resources specific to different geographic regions and economies.

As Matson explains, “Visitors will find trade-related information about WTO Members and Observers, including national tariff finders and contact details for MSME-related government agencies.”

The Trade Game

IOE&IT and the WTO MSME Group have also developed an interactive tool called The Trade Game.

This gamified version of an international trade deal, allows players to make decisions on what, how and where they sell goods. As Matson explains,

“The game offers a unique educational experience allowing individuals to learn about the mechanics of international trade in a fun and engaging manner. Participants become players who navigate challenges and decision points encountered by exporters in real life.

“The game prompts players to select a country to export from, a product to export, and a market to import to. They must then make choices related to customs requirements, marketing strategies, and trade financing, simulating actual scenarios.

Small business champions

Also as part of MSME Day, the WTO is honouring a group of Small Business Champions with its latest round of awards, this year focused on smallholder farmers.

The initiative aims to celebrate the best proposals to help smallholder farmers access international markets and supply chains. Small Business Champions can be smaller firms, industry associations, chambers of commerce or other non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The competition seeks to raise awareness among businesses and policymakers of the difficulties smallholder farmers encounter when it comes to international trade, highlighting best practices and supporting smallholder farmers' participation in international trade.