The director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevêdo, and the secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), John Danilovich, jointly launched an effort on Aug. 15 to encourage and facilitate participation by smaller companies in global trade.
The initiative, called ICC-WTO Small Business Champions, will provide a platform for companies and private sector organizations around the world to propose innovative, yet practical, ideas designed to encourage micro, small, and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) to do business across borders.
Despite their economic importance in developed, developing and least-developed countries, MSMEs' share of trade is disproportionately small, the two organizations said—often because they do not have the resources to navigate sometimes complex trading procedures. “But,” they stated, “new technologies are helping to pare back these obstacles and create a more level playing field for smaller companies in international trade. Helping more MSMEs to trade internationally is an important step in building a more inclusive trading system that benefits a wider array of citizens.”
The goal is to raise awareness of the barriers that MSMEs face in doing business across borders, highlight the experiences and success stories of those MSMEs that already are trading internationally, facilitate access to critical information and raise skills among MSMEs to enable them to diversify export markets
The ICC and the WTO will use their shared platform to support and promote successful proposals. The precise support provided by the ICC and the WTO will depend on the nature of the proposals received. The ICC and the WTO could, for example, help tpromote initiatives and host events, or provide expertise and institutional support. No financial contribution will be provided by the WTO or the ICC to implement proposals.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo commented, “I have heard many great ideas from the private sector over recent months about how we might be able to help MSMEs to trade. This initiative is our response—it is about capturing some of those ideas and using the shared platform of the WTO and ICC to help make them a reality. I look forward to seeing innovative proposals aimed at raising awareness among MSMEs of the opportunities that trade can provide, and how they can seize those opportunities.”
He added. “Policy reforms have an important role to play in driving MSME exports. But we also think it's time to take a different approach to these problems by leveraging the power of the private sector. This new initiative will seek to harness the knowledge, creativity and networks of the global business community to inspire and support MSME growth. We call on businesses and private sector organizations across the world to play their part as small business champions.”
Proposals could take the shape of awareness-raising campaigns; competitions; or capacity building, training, and mentoring programs.
Proposals should be designed to be delivered by the entity making the proposal—and should detail the concept, aims, timelines and other information, as appropriate. Proposals should be no longer than three pages. Proposals are only open to the private sector and representative bodies. All proposals should be sent to the following address in Word or PDF format: [email protected]
The call for proposals is open until the end of 2017. There is no limitation as to the number of proposals that may be selected. The selection of proposals will be carried out by the WTO Secretariat and the ICC. The successful proposals will be announced by the ICC and the WTO on a rolling basis.