Implementation of the WTO Trade Faciliation Agreement in particular in view of SMEs

Trade facilitation is expected to bring net welfare gains to the international economy by reducing costs and time of cross-border trade. Multinational firms and enterprises connected to global value chains and regional production networks are assumed to benefit most from trade facilitation gains (*). This raises the question of how (M)SMEs can benefit from trade facilitation.

SMEs are a key driver for economic development in terms of employment and economic growth. At the same time, they are under-represented in international trade and are disproportionately affected by regulatory burdens and costs. Hence trade facilitation reforms may open up further opportunities to connect to international trade for SME. However, specific measures may be necessary to ensure that SME can adjust to the changes and can reap the benefits of TF reforms.

This itinerary presents the practical aspects of implementing trade facilitation measures including those of the WTO TFA, implementation in view of SMEs . The WTO TFA does not contain specific provisions or references to SME. Nevertheless, governments designing trade facilitation reforms may include SME specific measures. Such measures are targeted at SME to assist them to overcome a disadvantage due to internal constraints, to address specific needs of SME, and to encourage them to engage in partnerships with government agencies such as customs administrations.

The itinerary is to raise awareness of policy makers on how to implement the WTO TFA with (M)SMEs in mind, by understanding their concerns and needs and finding solutions for them.

(*) OECD work on GVCs/TiVA has highlighted the fact that the more frequently products cross borders in the course of their manufacture, the more significant trade facilitation policies become. (OECD 2015, TAD/TC/WP(2014) 25/FINAL, page 6)