The World Trade Organization has launched online platform Trade4MSMEs for companies to find trade information to help them engage in exporting and importing.
The Trade4MSMEs website is targeted at micro, small or medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and allows small businesses to access a diverse range of trade information brought together from a variety of sources.
Developed with financial support from the UK, with additional funding to come from Canada, the website has two main sections.
MSME Resources contains guides and a library aimed at companies wanting to trade overseas, while the Policymaker Resources section is geared towards policy makers, government officials and researchers.
MSME Resources contains short guides providing key information on the steps that companies need to follow before exporting or importing goods or services, such as how to assess the export potential of the markets they are targeting and their readiness to export.
It also features a section for policymakers and researchers explaining the importance of MSMEs and where they sit in terms of global trade.
According to the WTO, businesses in the MSME category are accountable for roughly 60% of global employment, 50% of value-added, and 95% of enterprises worldwide. However, MSMEs are often at a disadvantage when it comes to participating in trade and therefore need support.
The World Bank estimates that the world will need to create 600 million jobs by 2030 to absorb the growing workforce, so SME development is a priority for all governments, especially those in the developing world.
The OECD claims that small businesses showed remarkable adaptability during the pandemic and that this will prove important for economies bouncing back. However, it has warned against support for small businesses being wound up too quickly.
The organisation held OECD MSME Week this summer to highlight issues faced by small businesses as well as the opportunities for them.
MSMEs are held back by a lack of relevant skills, knowledge about international markets, non-tariff barriers, cumbersome regulations and border procedures, as well as limited access to finance, in particular trade finance, the WTO reports.
Help for MSMEs
Trade4MSMEs guides list key trade documents required for companies to export or import in various markets, the contractual or intellectual property issues that need to consider and the logistics and transport options available.
They also explain how small businesses can access trade finance, make the best use of digital tools, and deal with potential trade disputes.
The platform was developed with the financial support of the UK’s Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+) and UKAid. Other partners include the Global Trade Helpdesk, the International Chamber of Commerce and its Centres for Entrepreneurship, the International Trade Centre and Google.