Marking World SME Day: joint working group to enable trade financing for micro- and small and medium enterprises

To mark World SME Day, the World SME Forum (WSF) based in Washington and Istanbul, together with the World Trade Board based in London, take the opportunity to highlight a joint working group aimed at enabling access to trade financing for micro- and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The joint working group, operating as a direct outcome of the World Trade Symposium 2017 aims to assist in addressing a global shortage in trade finance, most acutely impacting SMEs and emerging markets. The $1.6 trillion gap in trade finance is the focus of several initiatives across business, academia and international institutions, however, there is a clear opportunity to contribute in a material way, to addressing this gap.

The SME Trade Finance Gap Working Group is Co-Chaired by Berna Ozsar, Secretary General of the World SME Forum based in Turkey and Alexander Malaket, President of OPUS Advisory Services International Inc., based in Canada. Both are members of the World Trade Board, and lead a diverse group of experts from around the world, with a particular interest in facilitating access to trade financing for MSMEs, especially those in developing and emerging markets.

David Hennah, Co-Chair of the World Trade Board, notes, “The World Trade Symposium and the World Trade Board bring together like-minded experts from around the world, aiming to look at the interplay between trade, finance, technology and economic inclusiveness, to help improve the lives of people and the state of communities in a way that is not already being done elsewhere today. Our four working groups are mandated to create substantive, demonstrable outcomes over the coming year, and our joint working group with the WSF has committed to find creative ways to help reduce the global trade finance gap.”

Unlike micro-enterprises and small businesses in OECD or other similar economies, those based in developing markets do not need to be convinced of the value and benefits of international engagement and trade, yet they often face many serious obstacles in their pursuit of international opportunities, including difficulties in accessing timely and affordable trade financing.

Ozsar of the WSF notes, “The aspirations and approach of the World Trade Board align very well with the mandate of the World SME Forum, launched as a core outcome of the B20/G20 Presidency of Turkey in 2015, aiming to truly raise the bar in enabling SME success around the world, given broad recognition of the importance of this segment of business to job creation, development and poverty reduction. We look forward to reporting on the initiatives and successes of our joint working group over the coming months, and at the next World Trade Symposium in 2018.”