Micro, small and medium-size enterprises

Policy Reports

Since 2015, the theme of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) has emerged after the Philippines submitted a proposal on this issue in the WTO, calling for discussions to take place in a more sustained way. Yet, at present, the theme of MSMEs is mostly pushed by the major economic powers advocating new binding disciplines and increased market access. In particular, new WTO E-commerce disciplines are being pushed by the international business community (represented by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)/B20) as an MSME issue. However, this E-commerce MSME agenda is in fact the agenda of large corporations. The envisaged binding E-commerce rules would subject MSMEs in developing countries to competition with the digital giants even as these developing countries’ MSMEs face very real digital and technological challenges and would need policy space to establish their own domestic and regional E-commerce platforms. If rules would in fact serve developing countries’ MSMEs, these should be binding technology transfer arrangements to bridge the digital and technology divides, and binding financial assistance for infrastructure. However, these are not the type of rules being proposed. Given this context, this Note recommends that developing countries should not agree to have MSMEs as a horizontal issue within the WTO.