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Electronic services can help smaller businesses access international trade

There are about 162.8 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the world. More than 500 million people are employed in these enterprises.

However, these companies face many barriers to participating in international trade, also missing out on opportunities in the booming global digital commerce market, expected to reach about USD 6 trillion in value by 2022.

The challenges MSMEs face include: lack of timely and cost-effective access to services such as logistics for shipping goods abroad; limited knowledge of regulatory requirements in the exporting and importing countries; and lack of access to trade finance.

Responding to these challenges, ‘Expanding the horizon for MSMEs in international trade: Role of e-Services’ will be the focus of a conference organized during the 33rd United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) Forum in Geneva on 1 April. The conference is also part of the UNCTAD e-Commerce Week, scheduled during the same period.

The aim of the conference is to highlight the importance of the electronic services for MSMEs to facilitate entering international trade or access new markets by providing various services. The services can include handling regulatory formalities, arranging logistics and transport services or even securing trade finance and more.

This half-day conference will explore a range of issues including rise of digital economy and implications for the MSMEs, the current state of the international trade barriers faced by MSMEs, importance of e-services for MSMEs, introduction of the ISMIT (Integrated Services for MSMEs in International Trade) concept, benefits, the relationship between ISMIT and Single Window systems, and discuss standardization requirements and implementation guidelines.

The conference is expected to be attended by government officials, UN/CEFACT experts, single window operators, service providers, customs brokers, freight forwarders, logistics service providers and other stakeholders. It will take place from 2pm to 5.30 pm on Monday, 1 April in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. For registration and more information, please visit this link.