Director-General Roberto Azevêdo delivered the opening remarks at the book launch. He said: "SMEs are responsible for the largest share of employment opportunities in most economies — over 90% in some countries. 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.” His full speech can be found here.
Today’s increasingly interconnected global economy is transforming what is traded and who is trading, says 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.
The Report was launched at a plenary session of the Forum attended by Liam Fox, the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for International Trade, Robert B. Koopman, Chief Economist of the WTO, and Hildegunn Nordas, Senior Trade Policy Analyst at the OECD. The panellists discussed the findings of the Report and how SMEs can participate more actively in world trade.
Liam Fox said: "The World Trade Report on more inclusive trade is important and timely. It rightly focusses on the currently unfulfilled potential of SMEs in the global market place. SMEs are the lifeblood of any economy."
He added: "We must resist calls for protectionism and isolationism. These voices seductively promise protection and security from outside forces, but ultimately result in greater instability and economic insecurity, with often the poorest in society bearing the brunt. Either we shape the forces of globalisation or they shape us". His full speech is available here.
Robert B. Koopman said: "The World Trade Report helps us to have a better understanding of how SMEs' role in trade and economic activity is contributing to both trade and domestic production and how this landscape may be changing."
Hildegunn Nordas said: "We have at the moment a fragmented picture about SMEs in world trade and the World Trade Report brings it all together. It also adds an insight of its own which is highly appreciated. It will be a source of information for a long time to come for both policy makers, researchers and other interested parties."
The panel also included Kati Suominen, Founder and CEO of the Nextrade Group and Founder and Chairwoman of TradeUp Capital Fund, Miguel Angel Aldrete Pelayo, Manager of Chicza Rainforest, and Sherill Quintana, Owner and Founding President of Oryspa, who brought the perspective of SMEs into the debate.
They shared their personal experiences of starting SMEs in their own countries and the difficulties they faced along the way. They spoke about attempts at including indigenous communities and women in global trade. They also touched upon the role of the WTO in bringing different stakeholders to the table, such as financial institutions, donors, governments and SMEs.