The World SME Forum and the B20 agenda

20 November 2015
ITC News

The Turkish Presidency of the G20 centres on the principles of inclusivity, implementation and investment as the main pillars to re-establish a healthy global economy. These priorities are both pragmatic and far-reaching.

Pragmatism, though, does not have to come at the cost of ambition. By accentuating ‘implementation’, we focus on a realistic agenda with a long- lasting legacy. Indeed, if all countries put into practice the promises already made, and live up to the trust placed in us, global growth will be 2% more by the end of 2018. That 2% difference is equal to US$ 2 trillion in additional growth. We all have a vested interest in making this happen.

Inclusion is an important theme in Turkey’s G20 presidency, as global economic health requires a holistic and comprehensive approach. This year, we have established a new taskforce on SMEs and entrepreneurship to enhance the visibility and impact of SMEs on the B20 platform. We aim to unlock one of the greatest areas of untapped potential in global markets,namely SMEs. SMEs employ two-thirds of the workforce in the global economy.

Our vision for Turkey’s G20 legacy is also far-reaching. It stretches far beyond the membership of the G20 to include those nations hardest hit by the 2008 financial crisis and that have found recovery the most difficult. Investing in and enfranchising SMEs in developed countries and LDCs will encourage growth, investment and jobs.

Just as we are continuing the work of Australia’s chairmanship, we hope our achievements will extend far beyond 2015, and that China will build upon the edifices and progress of 2015. The successes of Turkey’s tenure will be enduring. That is why in May 2015 we set up the World SME Forum to be a permanent structure in global economics. Since the first G20 Business Summit in Seoul in 2010, the B20 has called upon the G20 to address the constraints SMEs face in the global marketplace. Now we are offering a concrete mechanism to level the playing field and deliver the kind of support SMEs have needed for years.

The World SME Forum is a collaboration between the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchange of Turkey (TOBB), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and ICC’s World Chambers Federations. It is designed to be an advocacy arm of SMEs. It will represent them at an international level and serve to influence policy at all levels to ensure the wider economic interests of SMEs, including issues such as financial inclusion, are represented in such international organizations as the G20, ASEAN, APEC, and the UN. To quote ICC Secretary General John Danilovich, the World SME Forum will ‘play a key role in helping SMEs tap global markets for the first time, and […] ensure that global policies are designed with the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs in mind.'

The World SME Forum is a global, independent, non-profit organization that is run by and for the private sector. It looks to identify and address the main difficulties faced by SMEs, and provide greater representation at a global and political level. Its main priority is to be an advocate of and voice for SMEs in political and international circles.

The World SME Forum will also seek to provide advisory services to address one of the biggest difficulties that SMEs face – up-to-date advice and best practice information. It will provide technical expertise, links to potential sources of financing, and specialized assistance to SMEs through virtual means. The
lack of digital infrastructure is a significant problem faced by SMEs. As such, the World SME Forum will establish an e-market information services platform to facilitate global connectivity with IVCs, establish networks, and conduct knowledge dissemination/creation. By focusing on these areas, SMEs can be better integrated into global markets.

With the launch of the World SME Forum and its prominence on Turkey’s G20 agenda, we hope that 2015 will be the year that the role and value of SMEs is recognized on an international stage. By targeting investment in infrastructure and widening access to information, as well as providing a voice at all levels – regional, national and international – the barriers preventing the growth and full contribution of SMEs can be broken down and their potential in the economy realized.

‘The SME sector is vital to the world economy, and small business is the powerhouse of employment, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit,’ said Mr. Babacan, then Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey. ‘We trade with them; we form partnerships; therefore, we must also be their voice.’

This article is a part of ITC's SME Competitiveness Outlook 2015