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UN/CEFACT Conference on "Expanding the Horizon for MSMEs in International Trade Role of e-Services"

1 April 2019

Salle XXV, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

Background
According to statistics available from 2014, there are about 162.8 million MSMEs in the world . These enterprises provide employment to about 508 million people. MSMEs are key contributors to national economies. They make up more than half of the total number of firms in the world. But their participation in international trade is relatively low. Micro and small enterprises rarely engage in international trade. In OECD, the percentage is approximately 10-15%.

However, there is immense potential for MSMEs to engage in international trade. Often, MSMEs are fast innovators and tend to have the local knowledge. The benefits for MSMEs from participating in international trade is very high since it does not only create economic gains, it improves their competitiveness which includes new knowledge, increased capacity and market know-how.

At the same time, MSMEs face many systemic barriers to participate in international trade. A number of reasons are at play. Some of them include: lack of timely and cost-effective access to services such as logistics for shipping goods abroad; knowledge of regulatory requirements in the exporting and importing countries; and trade finance. In addition, they often lack the specialized knowledge required for navigating many government e-services e.g. Single Window systems, advanced supply chain e-tools like e-traceability and so on.

For those MSMEs that participate in international trade, direct or indirect cost due to lack of understanding of the formalities, human resources or even trade finance is very high.

In this context, the evolution of ICT-based e-services could be a viable option. UN/CEFACT has been working on such a concept namely, Integrated Services for MSMEs in International Trade (ISMIT). ISMIT is an eCommerce platform for services, which can cooperate with the professional service providers and service partners that are needed in order to facilitate the participation of MSMEs in international trade within a practical framework that also supports their participation in Global Value Chains (GVCs).

Objective
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, introduce the ISMIT concept, benefits, the relationship between ISMIT and single window, and discuss the standardization requirements and implementation guidelines. Some of the key questions that this conference will address include:

  • What are international trade barriers faced by MSMEs?
  • What is the ISMIT?
  • How ISMITs address the international trade barriers faced by MSMEs?
  • What is the relationship between ISMITs and Single Window?
  • What are the benefits of ISMIT for Governments?
  • What are the benefits of ISMIT for service providers and service partners (e.g., customs broker, freight forwarders, logistics service providers, warehouses operators, banks, insurance companies, etc.)?
  • How to establish an ISMIT?
  • What standards are required for ISMIT?
  • How could e-services like ISMIT support ‘the last mile’ problem?
  • What can be done to include ‘Micro’ enterprises in the digital revolution?
  • What are the implications for MSMEs accessing e-services?
  • What is the current and future opportunities in digital transformation for logistics services?
  • The business ecosystem – what does it mean for MSMEs to participate in international trade?
  • The Development Perspective - what are the developmental impact in local communities through MSMEs’ participation in international markets?
  • How can standards and policy guidance can play an active role in promoting e-services for MSMEs?

Target Audience
All interested in integrated services and trade facilitation for MSMEs, including UN/CEFACT experts and liaisons; single window operators; Government agencies; service providers and partners for MSMEs (e.g., customs broker, freight forwarders, logistics service providers, warehouses operators, banks, insurance companies, etc.)

Agenda and Presentations

14:00 – 14:15
Opening Address by Director, Economic Cooperation and Trade Division

14:15 – 15:30
Session 1: Cross-border e-services and participation of MSMEs’ in international markets

Moderator: Ms. Estelle IGWE, Nigerian Export Promotion Council & UN/CEFACT Vice Chair

Opening the Global Economy to MSMEs: Progress and Prospects for e-Services
     Salehin KHAN   BIO    PPT

Integrating ‘Micro’ enterprises in the digital revolution
    Virginia CRAM-MARTOS, Triangularity Consulting & UN/CEFACT Domain Coordinator   BIO    PPT

Opportunities in digital transformation for logistics services and implications for MSMEs
     Fatou NDIAYE, Co-founder, The Great Village    PPT

Standardization in promoting cross-border e-services for MSMEs
     Lance THOMPSON, Secretary, UN/CEFACT   BIO    PPT

15:30 – 16:00 COFFEE BREAK

16:00 – 17:30
Session 2: Establishing the business ecosystem for MSMEs to participate in international trade (country examples)

Moderator: Ms. Virginia CRAM MARTOS, Triangularity Consulting & UN/CEFACT Domain Coordinator

Questions for consideration:
1) What are the implementation challenges of cross-border e-services for MSMEs’ participation in international markets?
2) How can standards and policy guidance play an active role in promoting e-services for MSMEs?
3) What are the economic, social or environmental impact in local communities through MSMEs’ participation in international markets?
4) How can e-services address ‘the last mile’ problem of MSMEs?
     Malaysia
        Eva Chan CHAW PENG, Head of International Business, Dagang Net Technologies  BIO   PPT
     Germany
        Evelyn EGGERS, Director Business Development, Dakosy    BIO   PPT
     Morocco
        Jalal BENHAYOUN, Vice-Chairman, African Alliance of E Commerce (AAEC)    BIO   PPT
     Australia 
        Steven CAPELL, Enterprise Architecture, Department of Home Affairs   BIO   PPT