India is looking at ways such as free trade agreements to enable domestic MSMEs to participate in public procurement of different countries, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said on Monday.
He said that 10-15 per cent of the GDP of any country accounts for public procurement, which could be around USD 10-15 trillion in value terms.
Several countries give preference to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in their public procurement.
"In fact, there are various ways by which countries promote MSMEs, we also promote them in India in the sense that we give them special purchase preference.
"As more and more FTAs (free trade agreements) are getting signed...we are also looking at...how MSMEs...can have access to public procurement of different countries, so (that) Indian companies may get an opportunity... MSMEs from other countries can get access to our portal," Barthwal said here at an event.
Under the India-UAE free trade pact, government procurement contracts worth over Rs 200 crore are open to UAE-based firms on the same terms as Indian firms.
The government procurement chapter is also under negotiations in the proposed India-UK trade pact.
The secretary also said that integration of MSMEs in the global supply chains would be important for global trade.
Further, he said, "70 per cent of global trade happens through these chains...so a lot of opportunities are there."
Meanwhile, speaking at the event, Director-International Trade Centre (ITC) Mondher Mimouni said that the Global Trade Helpdesk (GTH) has made its databases and other trade-related information easier to access by providing a single point of entry to users.
Originally created by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1964, ITC has operated since 1968 under the joint aegis of GATT/WTO and the United Nations. ITC is the focal point in the United Nations system for technical cooperation with developing countries and economies in transition, on trade promotion and export development.
The GTH is a joint initiative of ITC, UNCTAD and the WTO and it streamlines market research for companies, with a focus on supporting MSMEs. This online portal is a one-stop-shop for trade information, covering trade flows, market access requirements, export potential, customs, sustainability standards, technical barriers to trade, rules of origin and more.
The initiative is expanding, including through technological upgrades of the platform and multilingual options, as requested by the G20, to enhance MSME access.
The information available on that platform is quite technical and the Jaipur Call for Action agreed at the G-20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting in August called for making it more user-friendly for small and medium businesses.
"So we created this freely accessible platform that centralises information through a single digital entry point…but I know that the best is yet to come. Emerging technologies are changing the way we interact with data…and complex information into clear and actionable fragments," Mimouni said.
"Together we can revolutionise how quickly and easily the MSMEs access the information," he said at a seminar organised by ministries of finance, commerce and industry, and labour.
The information through the global trade helpdesk can help level the playing field for small businesses with regard to market information to support inclusive growth in India and across the globe, he said, adding that without information or deficiency of information "we are excluding many small and developing countries. They keep exporting to traditional markets without getting an opportunity to diversify their economy and to move up the value chain".
Help is needed from all the countries to enhance the functionalities of the helpdesk by getting data from them in a more user-friendly format for greater transparency and upgrading the tools, he said.
"In some other instances, we are moving to real-time information. We are doing this with some countries. Our dream is to expand it to all countries. Technology is there, we need to move with partners," he added.