The OECD has set up the International Business Dialogue 2013 to identify the most urgent and pervasive obstacles to international trade and investment and feed that information into various policymaking processes, such as WTO trade facilitation negotiations. A first meeting took place in Paris on 4 and 5 March where Brian Bieron, heading the Connected Commerce Policy Lab for eBay Inc., was the voice of the technology-enabled small business trade.
The Dialogue’s first meeting discussed new forms of business obstacles, the integration of SMEs into global markets, issues in customs, and finally what policies can best address today’s barriers to international business activity.
As a panelist, Brian described how small businesses using global online networks, such as eBay’s, are more international in their outlook than many of the largest, retail corporations. The very underlying technology used by these small businesses is global in nature. But the trade rules and procedures are not designed for these traders looking to ship many small parcels to many foreign countries. Improving cross-border delivery services and reducing customs complexity would be crucial yet simple steps to allow individuals and small businesses to participate in the global economy. Trade facilitation is about letting more people into the globalization tent, explained Brian.
The OECD is running a survey to help shape the Dialogue. All firms are encouraged to participate – you find the survey here. Survey results so far point to regulation and bureaucracy, transport costs, and customs procedures as part of the main obstacles in international markets. The majority of the responds see no major changes when it comes to business obstacles and even worsened bureaucracy and regulation. Recommendations expressed by the respondents included:
- Remove non-tariff barriers that hinder market access of SMEs
- Create an e-enabling business environment
- Take a more internationalist view