Enhancing the Participation of MSMEs in International Trade. PTIC-Geneva

21 June 2016, Geneva – The Philippines, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Thailand, together with the International Trade Center (ITC) organized a WTO workshop on “Enhancing the Participation of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in International Trade.”

The Philippines has been headstrong in its MSME advocacy and has successfully launched the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs in Global Trade and the Ilo-Ilo Initiative as the host APEC 2015. The Philippines has also taken this advocacy to the main trade body – the WTO.

The workshop is a continuation of the dialogue that the Philippines has undertaken in 2015 to bring MSMEs front and center in trade policy discussions. “The workshop created another opportunity to enhance our awareness of the role of MSMEs in international trade. We were able to share experiences and identify best practices, success factors and challenges related to the participation of MSMEs in international trade. The intention of the workshop was to offer the WTO Members the best source for this information, which is why, the Philippines has arranged for a peer-led exchange by people who work directly with MSMEs, complemented by expert input” – said Philippine Mission to the WTO Ambassador, Esteban Conejos,Jr.

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DG Azevêdo welcomes efforts to boost trade opportunities for small businesses

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo attended a workshop today (21 June) on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), focused on enhancing their participation in international trade. The event was organized by the permanent missions of the Philippines, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Thailand, supported by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The discussion focused on the specific barriers that MSMEs face in the global trading system and what steps could be taken to lower those barriers.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said:

“This is a very important issue. MSMEs are responsible for the largest share of employment opportunities in most economies — up to 90% in some countries — and they are big employers of women and young people. At the domestic level MSMEs have major economic importance, but their participation in trade simply doesn’t match up. This is true in both developing and developed countries. So it seems that we may be missing a significant opportunity.

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Enhancing the participation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) in international trade

A workshop organized by the Permanent Missions of the Philippines, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, the Republic of Singapore and Thailand with the International Trade Centre (ITC)

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) constitute the overwhelming majority of firms and are a major source of employment in the economies of WTO members. Globally, SMEs make up over 95% of all firms, account for approximately 50% of value added and 60% of total employment (ACCA, 2010; Ayyagari et al., 2011; Edinburgh Group, 2013).

Micro enterprises, the smallest component of the SME sector, are increasingly the largest sources of employment in many developing countries, especially for women and youth.

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Philippines and Switzerland hold 2nd Meeting of Joint Economic Commission

Bern, Switzerland – The Second Meeting of the Joint Economic Commission between the Philippines and Switzerland was convened on 27 April. The Meeting was co-chaired by DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado and Ambassador Livia Leu, Head of Bilateral Economic Relations, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of the Swiss Confederation.

The discussion focused on the recently concluded Free Trade Agreement between the Philippines and the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members states (comprising of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland); the Philippines’ bid to become a priority country for the Swiss Import Promotion Program (SIPPO); regional and multilateral economic issues; the implementation of existing bilateral agreements as well as the perspectives of the private sector in relation to the domestic developments of both countries.

“The JEC between the Philippines and Switzerland fully complements and enhances the PH – EFTA Free Trade Agreement allowing both countries to create an environment conducive for our private sector to seize the benefits,” stated DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado.

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WTO Information Technology Agreement Expanded: PH to benefit from tariff free trade of ICT products

A group of 53 World Trade Organization (WTO) members, including the Philippines, finalized the agreement to expand the product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The agreement, reached on 17 December 2015 at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, now covers the elimination of tariffs for new generation semi-conductors, Global Positioning System or GPS navigation equipment, and medical equipment, such as magnetic resonance imaging products and ultra-sonic scanning apparatus.

"The ITA expansion represents a huge step forward for innovation and economic growth the world over. It will deliver huge benefits to the Philippines in terms of improved productivity and market access, particularly for the electronics and semiconductor industry. The agreement makes our country more attractive to potential foreign direct investments (FDIs) particularly from key ICT players such as US, Japan, and EU,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo.

Annual trade on the 201 products covered by the Agreement is worth over USD1.3 trillion per year, and accounts for approximately 10% of total global trade today. Under the terms of the agreement, the 53 WTO member-participants agreed to reduce tariffs on covered goods beginning 1 July 2016, with around 65% of these tariff lines eliminated by end of 2016. By 2019, 89% of tariff lines will be eliminated. Zero tariffs on all products will be achieved by 2022.

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