Geneva, 28 September 2016

e-commerce-for-smes_sourceBusiness recommendations on a proposed World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on e-commerce have been unveiled today at WTO headquarters in Geneva, as part of the on-going WTO business dialogue process launched in May this year.

The proposal echoes calls from business leaders for the WTO to play a central role in underpinning an open, reliable and secure global digital economy, and calls for the WTO to consider launching new talks on a holistic package of trade disciplines, rules and assistance to boost micro, small- and medium-sized business (MSMEs) e-commerce, with an overriding objective to promote inclusive growth.

The proposal from business is built around three pillars: connectivity and capacity building for e-commerce, enabling MSMEs to get goods sold online to consumers more efficiently (trade facilitation 2.0) and digital rules.

International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Secretary General John Danilovich presented the proposal on behalf of the world business organization during a meeting of the ICC-led business focus group, established by the WTO to seek private sector views on new ways to strengthen the multilateral trade agenda.

The meeting took place during the WTO’s annual Public Forum taking place this week.

Click here to read the full proposal (*.pdf).

WTO Business focus Group 1 – MSMEs and E-commerce

Preliminary report (*.pdf)

Recent years have witnessed remarkable developments in the digital economy, creating unprecedented opportunities for cross-border trade. 

The Internet is enabling micro, small and medium-sized businesses (“MSMEs”) to access global markets unlike ever before. Studies show that MSMEs that use on-line platforms are around five times more likely to export than those in the traditional economy. Empirical research also finds that companies connected to the global economy are more productive and contribute to the development of more prosperous communities. Small businesses and entrepreneurs in developing economies are already at the forefront of this emerging trend.

But Internet-led changes to the composition, nature and speed of global trade are raising increasing policy frictions. Today’s trade rules – which largely reflect 20th Century patterns of trade-are not always well-suited to supporting the growth of MSME e-commerce.

What’s more, fragmented national rules on data, consumer protection and the availability of online information can act as a major impediment to trade-creating new market barriers and pushing up costs for MSMEs looking to enter global markets. One precondition for the success and viability of e-commerce is the ability for information to freely and efficiently cross borders-without being limited by technical barriers or anti-competitive bottlenecks.