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UN/CEFACT to help smaller businesses access international trade through new digital platforms

Going beyond a national economy to access new markets is a challenge for any company. It requires time and investment as well as a good deal of knowledge in other markets. Even for large companies, this is a big step to take and can represent a significant financial risk. For Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), the challenges can seem overwhelming and not worth the time and investment. This situation is particularly critical in low and medium income countries where trade-related services are less developed, more difficult to access and more expensive than in the majority of developed countries.

The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), hosted by UNECE, has put forward a project to help MSMEs access the international trading market. Today, many of the services which are necessary for this are disperse and costly. In response, the project proposes to create eService platforms to assist MSMEs in overcoming these obstacles in an effective manner.

Building on the existing experience of eService platforms, the project will identify the barriers that MSMEs face and propose ways to address them, and take concrete steps for the creation of such platforms. This will help these smaller companies access international markets, whether in Mongolia, Bulgaria, Senegal or Uruguay.

“Internet and eCommerce have greatly improved the efficiency of traditional trade. When it comes to international trade, related rules, policy and standards are very critical and it is as important as information technology in terms of trade facilitation,” according to Estelle Igwe, Vice Chair of UN/CEFACT. “Our ISMIT (Integrated Services for MSMEs in International Trade) Project can help MSMEs to improve efficiency, reduce cost and help them to engage in international trade more easily."

This project and many others will be further developed during the week-long UN/CEFACT Forum taking place from 23-27 April, 2018 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. All experts are welcome to join this work and the other conferences and project developments, free of charge, by registering online.

The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) is an international forum for experts from every country to participate in the development of global technological standards, Recommendations and Framework Agreements to promote international trade through the simplification, harmonization and standardization of trade procedures and processes, envisaging the eventual elimination of paper-based transactions in both public sector regulatory systems and  private sector supply chains. 

For more information on the ISMIT (Integrated Services for MSMEs in International Trade) project, please visit: https://uncefact.unece.org/display/uncefactpublic/ISMIT+-+Integrated+Services+for+MSMEs+in+International+Trade