The two business focus groups were set up after an event held at the WTO in May 2016 at the initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the B20, the business arm of the G20. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo participated in the event, which brought together a wide-range of businesses – both large and small, from developed and developing countries. Building on the initial ideas raised during that event, business participants continued the work remotely in discussion groups led by Stormy Mildner, B20 Sherpa and Head of Foreign Trade Policy at the Federation of German Industries, and John Danilovich, Secretary-General of the ICC. This work culminated in two sets of recommendations, reflecting their priorities for the WTO.

DG Azevêdo welcomed the reports. He said:

“I would like to thank participants for their hard work and for their engagement in the WTO. These recommendations are a welcome addition to the ongoing discussions here in Geneva. They provide new perspectives and rich food for thought which could be very useful in members' deliberations. Now it is for members to consider these suggestions and decide whether and how they would like to take them forward.”

The first set of recommendations encourages WTO members to look into ways of creating a global ecosystem that better enables small businesses to access international markets and sell products online more easily. Additional highlights include the need for enhanced connectivity and capacity building in e-commerce. The report from the Business Focus Group on E-commerce and SMEs is available here.

The second set of recommendations calls for the revitalization of WTO trade negotiations and the rapid and effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement. They also seek to strengthen rules on trade in services, investment facilitation and regional trade agreements. The report from the Business Focus Group on Market Access, Services and Investment Facilitation is available here.

The two discussion group leaders, John Danilovich and Stormy Mildner, will continue to engage with WTO members in Geneva over the coming months on the basis of these reports.


The business event held in May 2016 brought together over 60 business leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face in conducting trade operations and to discuss how the WTO can help in dealing with them. Participants were from small and large enterprises from developed and developing countries, representing a wide range of sectors. The event was held at the request of the ICC and the B20 group of leading independent business associations from G20 economies, and facilitated by the WTO.

It was part of the WTO's ongoing series of “Trade Dialogues” events. This series is bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, including labour organisations, consumer bodies and academics, to discuss a variety of trade-related issues. 

For more information, visit the Trade Dialogues webpage.


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