A webinar on ‘Global Trade 2.0 post COVID-19: MSMEs and e-trade in trusted ecosystems’ was organised by MVIRDC World Trade Center (WTC) Mumbai. Ms. Cristina Dragoi, Director, Trade Point Ragusa (Italy) & Steering Committee Member, World Trade Point Federation (WTPF) said, “In next few weeks, WTPF is activating its e-trade desk which will present an excellent opportunity for 60 million Indian MSMEs to access markets in 70 countries. We are also working on creating a digital identity for MSMEs to help them trade in a safe ecosystem. World Trade Center Mumbai can help MSMEs in providing access to this e-desk.” WTC Mumbai is the only Trade Point in India representing WTPF.
Ms. Dragoi remarked that MSMEs should be the focus area of policy attention as they account for considerable share of the world economy. In Europe, MSMEs account for 93-94% of all enterprises, she informed.
Ms. Dragoi, while suggesting the survival strategy for MSMEs, pointed out, “MSMEs must continue their operations and focus on two-three promising products. They must enhance the use of digital means including social media platforms to reach out to potential buyers globally. It is important for MSMEs to develop trusted partners while exploring worldwide opportunities. At the same time, countries should keep their markets open and come together in realising a faster recovery against this pandemic.”
“MSMEs in India should not waste opportunities in this crisis. They should remain nimble and take advantage of gaps that have developed due to recent disruptions in global supply chains. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated transmission of business information through digital channels,” said Mr. Wong Chun Yew from World Trade Center Singapore. He shared East Asian perspective of growing digitisation in global trade to participants.
Mr. Wong also suggested several opportunities for Indian MSMEs in global market. He said, “Indian businesses must take advantage of the goodwill it has generated in global markets. India’s culinary is most sought-after and businesses in this sector must explore lucrative opportunities round the world. Besides, India has a favourable time zone and can cater to businesses both from East Asia and Middle East Asian region effectively. Also, India’s high linguistics skill is an added advantage to its thrust to global commerce.”
Mr. Siddhartha Rastogi, Expert – Behavioural Finance & Capital Markets presented an India centric view on the current COVID-19 situation. Mr. Rastogi said, “Sixty million MSMEs are the lifeline and backbone of India and they would play an important role in reaching the USD five trillion GDP growth target. To achieve this, we need to ‘change our outlook to change our outcome’. In the next 12 months, MSMEs will face a critical challenge to survive. In this situation, e-trade will be the focus point. The digital trade can be seen in the form of e-sport, e-exercise, e-entertainment, e-education, etc.”
“To survive this crisis, MSMEs would have to reinvent themselves in terms of cutting down on futile expenditure, ensure economies of scale, manufacturing would need to be nearer to source of raw material and/or closer to demand and supply, work-from-home would be the new normal, businesses would have to function from low rental areas, embrace digital ways of doing business,” Mr. Rastogi added.
Speaking on the emerging sectors post COVID-19, Mr. Rastogi said, “The demand for private vehicles will increase due to social distancing. The natural winners from COVID-19 crisis are businesses in food processing, fitness, preventive and curative healthcare and virtual business conferencing. COVID 19 will have favourable impact on construction, chemicals and automotive sectors.”
Mr. Vijay Kalantri, Vice Chairman, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai said, “In today’s challenging times, it’s important to support MSMEs’ in their fight to survival. The revival of MSMEs will come only after successful survival. Digital trade in the form of e-commerce will be the key mode of global trade in post COVID-19 world and increasingly export orders will be placed on social media and e-marketplaces, while trade documentation and payment will be supported by new technologies such as blockchain and similar fintech innovations. However, there is a lot of apprehension with regard to trust, cyber safety and security. MSMEs will play a vital role in helping economies and industries to come out of this crisis as they form essential part of ancillaries manufacturing. Therefore, the focus should be on their survival. Today, most MSMEs are going through a tough time in meeting expenses such as salaries and other basic costs. Many countries like USA, UK and Canada have offered stimulus packages to enable business to cope during the crisis unlike India. Therefore, something needs to be done so that they get back on track.”
Mr. Kalantri further suggested that the government should empower entrepreneurs, who are the creators of employment and wealth.