It would be hard to overstate the importance of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the economic and social fabric of Alliance project countries.
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in 2022 formal SMEs accounted for up to 45% of total employment and up to 33% of national income (GDP) in developing and least developed countries (LDCs), noting that the percentages were much higher with the inclusion of micro enterprises and informal SMEs.
Yet, lack of resources along with barriers to commerce virtually exclude these enterprises from the benefits of global trade, also denying economic opportunity and growth to their countries.
Empowering MSMEs in accessing global markets creates jobs, raises living standards, and ultimately leads to poverty reduction. In framing and entering into force the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), WTO members recognised the outsized benefits full TFA implementation would have for MSMEs in these countries.
The Alliance provides opportunities for small business to participate in shaping trade facilitation through its MSME Mainstreaming Approach, informed by two key Alliance documents - Trade Facilitation Agreement Through an MSME Lens and Small businesses, great opportunities.
Trade facilitation also plays a significant role in empowering the other possibilities created by digital transformation, particularly e-commerce. Through its work in supporting countries in fulfilling their TFA commitments through public private partnership, the Alliance is giving MSMEs a voice in trade facilitation.
MSMEs provide invaluable input at every stage of project development and implementation. In 2022, almost a third of the 5,822 participants in 88 Alliance-supported public private dialogues (PPDs) came from the MSME sector. A total of 445 MSMEs engaged in these various events, a three-fold increase from the previous year.
Strong MSME representation in PPDs informs governments on trade bottlenecks and priority reforms. It also enables companies to better appreciate the constraints agencies may encounter while instigating and managing change. Early consensus involving businesses of all sizes, including MSMEs, helps in creating and building the necessary trust underpinning transformational change.
"The Alliance operates at the nexus of trade and development, providing timely and expert ways of overcoming trade barriers for MSMEs, including women-owned enterprises, in developing and least developed countries."
- David Lepage, Deputy Director, Economic Relations and Strategy Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Global Affairs Canada
“Before I discovered this platform, I had to fill out three or four different forms. It was complicated and time-consuming. The platform will solve this problem entirely.”
- Ibtissem Jmel, Export Manager at the Association of Cap Bon Canned Food Producers (SCAPCB), Tunisia
“By facilitating regulator-industry dialogue as well as providing training for MSMEs on export market regulations, this project [in Peru] promoted transparency of process while enabling exporters to successfully access export markets.”
- Mark Feduke, Director of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs, ArdoVLM