ITC targets SME integration into value chains at WTO Ministerial Conference

7 November 2013
ITC News
Focus will be on enabling small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries to take advantage of an agreement on trade facilitation

The International Trade Centre (ITC) will host a side event at the upcoming Ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, to help developing countries take advantage of any agreement on trade facilitation, in particular by increasing exports of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through their integration into value chains.

A successful outcome of the Ministerial Conference, to held from 3–6 December, is ‘vital’ for the future of the multilateral trading system, according to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, who said in his inaugural speech to the WTO General Council on 9 September that his ‘full priority will be to ensure that we have a successfully negotiated outcome’. An agreement on trade facilitation is expected. Other issues on the agenda relate to agricultural production, food security and recognition of the special needs of least developed countries.

The ITC side event on 4 December, moderated by ITC Executive Director Arancha González, will bring together a panel of public and private-sector experts to discuss the theme of ‘Integrating SMEs into value chains: the private sector case for trade facilitation’. Trade-facilitation measures are needed to foster participation of developing countries – particularly landlocked countries – in global trade. SMEs often bear high costs of complying with customs and border procedures and other non-tariff measures, so they require technical assistance in overcoming the barriers and becoming competitive suppliers.

ITC is also an official partner of the Bali Business Forum to be held on 5 December, which will give members of the business community the opportunity to discuss issues in the global-trade agenda with public-sector leaders and academics. The event is being convened jointly by the International Chamber of Commerce, The Evian Group@IMD and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).

The Bali Business Forum is part of the Bali Trade and Development Symposium, which aims to provide a forum for discussion among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders on issues related to trade and sustainable development in order to identify ways to address challenges facing the multilateral trade system. ITC will host a session on ‘Fundamentals for services export readiness’.

The Ministerial Conference, which usually meets every two years, is the highest decision-making body of the WTO.