Geneva-MSME Connection: South and Southeast Asia

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CUTS International, in partnership with partners on the ground in selected South & South-East Asian developing countries, aims to improve the capacity of private sectors in these countries to input into their WTO delegates positions. Connecting these stakeholders contributes to South & South-East Asian developing country negotiating positions more fully aligned with the on-the-ground conditions faced by their business communities and ultimately to improved private sector development at the national level.

WTO delegates in Geneva are not always fully aware of the interests and concerns of their MSMEs. This can lead to participations and actions which do not adequately address trade impediments actually faced by their micro, small and medium private sectors. This problem can be most pronounced for developing and least developed country delegations, which lack the resources and established systems in capitals to undertake broad stakeholder consultations regularly. Moreover, there is a lack of participation from those same countries in regular work of the WTO, which makes it difficult for them to take advantage of the opportunities that the Multilateral Trading System (MTS) offers through these Committees (e.g. the TBT Committee, the SPS Committee, the TPR Body).

Building on the previous experience of its “Geneva Trade & Business Connection” initiative, CUTS is launching a similar forum to help connecting World Trade Organization (WTO) delegates of selected South & South East Asia (S&SEA) developing and least-developed countries with their national Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) so that their participation in the relevant WTO meetings is more fully aligned with on-the-ground conditions faced by their micro, small and medium business communities, and hence allow their issues to be appropriately brought to the relevant WTO Bodies.

The project also aims to improve the understanding of WTO Agreements and regular procedures among the MSMEs in the participating countries, establish regular and sustainable connections between them and their WTO delegates, and demonstrate to all of them the utility and relevance of the WTO, thus not only improving their participation in the WTO but also contributing to the strengthening of the WTO in the current challenging times.