Public Forum 2016 — “Inclusive Trade”

Trade is not just for big business. SMEs are playing a greater role in international trade. Many have grown into micro-multinationals. A 2013 study of 2,100 SMEs across 21 countries conducted by Oxford Economics and SAP reported that “the roster of SMEs generating more than 40 per cent of revenue outside their home country will have increased by 66 per cent” by 2016. A report published by eBay in 2013 revealed that over 95 per cent of small businesses engaged on the eBay platform are exporters. Across the eight markets analyzed, the average number of international markets reached by exporters is around 30 to 40. Some 60-80 per cent of new businesses analyzed “survive” their first year. The respective figure for traditional exporters is only around 30-50 per cent. Innovation has been driving SMEs’ expansion into the global market. This year’s Forum will examine how the WTO can foster SMEs’ participation into the global market. The flagship World Trade Report will be looking at this issue in depth and will be launched at the Forum.

Today’s world is dominated by digital innovation. New technologies have transformed the way the world trades and have given a boost to trade growth. Trade, in turn, is a driver of innovation. The Forum will look at how the trading system can support innovation. Trade and new technologies are inextricably interlinked – one fostering the other. Can trade keep up with ever-changing technology? Does the WTO need to reform trade rules to allow members to fully benefit from innovation? How can we tackle internet governance issues? Is technological innovation a driver of development? Has trade helped countries to innovate? How can innovation enhance the trading capacities of developing countries? The Public Forum 2016 will provide an opportunity to share ideas on all these topics.

The Forum will also discuss how women can participate more fully in international trade and how they can overcome the constraints preventing them from reaping the benefits of trade.


The annual Public Forum is the WTO’s flagship event. It provides a unique platform for heads of state and leading global businesspeople, academics and non-governmental organizations to come together and discuss some of the major trade and development issues of the day. Over 1,500 participants attend the Forum each year.

This year’s event is particularly special as we are marking the 15th anniversary of the Public Forum.

Source: WTO

Image: Fotosearch