Model WTO 2017

Topic 2017: SMEs and the WTO

Micro firms and SMEs account for the majority of firms in most countries (95 per cent on average), and for the vast majority of jobs” (World Trade Organization, 2016, p. 3). Yet, trade liberalization rhetoric has not included the debate on SMEs on a large scale until now. Besides some regional agreements, the facilitation of international trade for SMEs is a challenge to be faced. Due to the fact that efficiency gains from international trade are generally only enjoyed by bigger players in the market, there has been criticism on the rule setting which is influenced majorly by these (Altomonte, 2008, p. 3). SMEs have therefore not been taken into account to the extent that they should be, considering their importance. Taking the previous into consideration, the World Trade Report released by the World Trade Organization in 2016 addresses the issues that Small and Medium Enterprises face. This report further comments that “SME participation in trade is neither well documented nor well understood”. This of course, creates trouble for policy-makers which would like to address this issue. Nonetheless, as international trade regulations have evolved and stabilized over time, the dialogue about involving SMEs in these rules has increased. The Model WTO 2017 discussed measures which ranged from dispute settlement to special measures for SMEs in least developed countries, which boost SMEs competitiveness in the international trade framework.

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