unctad.org | Expert Meeting on Increasing the Participation of Developing Countries’ SMEs into Global Value Chains
Expert Meeting on Increasing the Participation of Developing Countries’ SMEs into Global Value Chains
18 - 19 October 2007

Key Issues

Global value chains (GVCs) refer to the interrelated production activities performed by firms at different geographic locations. In the new global economy, companies now have the ability to source products and services from a variety of vendors at various stages of their operations.

Although several aspects of global value chains are now largely understood, notably their main drivers and governance structure, their impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in both developed and developing countries, has not yet been thoroughly researched.

The meeting is expected to contribute towards raising awareness and sharing best practices on policies that favour the integration of SMEs into global value chains. It should complement UNCTAD´s earlier work that focused on policy formulation and analysis on SME development, and increase technical cooperation in this area, particularly in the context of the Aid for Trade initiative.

Experts at the meeting are invited to consider the following questions:

  • Would the business environment reforms alone be sufficient to increase the participation of SMEs in GVCs?

  • What other policy options could be considered to increase and maintain developing country SMEs´ participation in GVCs?

  • How can Governments address SME supply-side constraints in their development plans, and how can donor agencies and private sector partners work together to relieve these constraints?

  • How can opportunities be created and capacity of local SMEs be strengthened to ensure successful participation and upgrading in GVCs?

  • What are the "best practices" in successful supplier development programmes? What policy lessons can be learnt from these practices?

  • What policies and institutions have been effective in promoting clusters and linkages between TNCs and local firms?

  • (How can supplier development programmes incorporate the creation of clusters and linkages?
Experts are encouraged to prepare brief papers on the subject under discussion. These papers will be made available at the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.

Agenda

Documents

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Notification

The Expert Meeting on increasing the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in global value chains will be held from 18 to 19 October 2007 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. It will be opened at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 18 October 2007.

Background and purpose of the meeting

In the new global economy, companies have the ability to source products and services from a variety of vendors at various stages of their operations. Global value chains refer to the interrelated production activities performed by firms at different geographic locations. Although several aspects of Global value chains are now largely understood, notably their main drivers and governance structure, their impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in both developed and developing countries has not yet been thoroughly researched. A joint research project, recently conducted by UNCTAD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the University of Fribourg and Geneva entitled "enhancing the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into global value chains", aims to shed light on these issues. The main sources of reference for the expert meeting are the findings of this joint work. The issue note also refers to the results of the OECD conference on "enhancing the role of SMEs in global value chains", held in Tokyo in June 2007, and its final action statement.

While policy measures may vary at the national level and by industry, the research studies conducted by UNCTAD in developing countries confirmed the need to develop the supply capacity of SMEs and to upgrade their activities in order to maximize benefits from integrating into international production systems. The meeting will also highlight the need for Governments of developing countries to review the existing SME and export promotion strategies to ensure that they are adjusted to the new realities and requirements of global markets.

The outcome of the meeting will be used to complete a checklist of good practices to advise developing countries on how to set up and sequence the implementation of a comprehensive programme to build productive capacity.

Participation

UNCTAD member States are requested to nominate experts not later than 28 September 2007. Experts, who will participate in the meeting in their personal capacities, are expected to have proven expertise in the subject, and they may be selected from governmental and non governmental organizations, private entities or academia. The meeting may be of particular interest to government officials and representatives of the private sector involved in SME development, as well as in the promotion of public-private partnerships aimed at increasing the integration of developing countries SMEs into the global economy. In addition, experts from international and regional organizations will be invited as resource persons.

Specialized agencies and intergovernmental bodies wishing to participate in the meeting, as well as non-governmental organizations in the general category and those in the special category wishing to participate as observers, are requested to inform the UNCTAD secretariat of the names of their representatives by 28 September 2007.

Financial assistance

Limited funds will be made available to finance the participation of a selected number of officially nominated experts from least developed countries. Governments requiring funding are therefore invited to explicitly request financing in their letters of nomination. The decision as to which experts should receive financing will be based on the principle of equitable geographical representation, needs of beneficiaries, and the expertise of the experts concerned, as well as the type and availability of funding in the trust fund for financing the participation of experts. Changes in nominated experts will be considered as new nominations.

Nominations with requests for financing should be received no later than 17 September 2007, and should be accompanied by the following information about the nominee:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone and fax number
  • E-mail address
  • Name of a contact person in the country´s permanent mission in Geneva

It should be noted in this connection that once the list of experts to be financed has been finalized, all travel arrangements will be made in accordance with United Nations rules and regulations. The least costly fare will be authorized.

These experts are expected to prepare brief papers on issues they consider particularly important. The papers will be made available at the Meeting in the form and language in which they are received.

Background documents and contributed papers

The provisional agenda for the meeting, together with the secretariat´s annotations thereto, is being circulated as document TD/B/COM.3/EM.31/1. In order to facilitate the discussion, the UNCTAD secretariat has prepared an issues note, which will be circulated as TD/B/COM.3/EM.31/2.

In addition, all experts are encouraged to prepare and submit brief papers related to one or several of the issues contained in the provisional agenda to the meeting, as well as those relating to their country´s experience in increasing the participation of SMEs into global value chains. These papers will be made available to the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.

Logistics

The meeting will take place at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Palais des Nations. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in the six official languages of the United Nations.

Upon arrival, participants are requested, before entering the Palais des Nations, to collect their badges at the United Nations Security Service, Pregny Gate entrance, 14 avenue de la Paix. The Security Service is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because of the security measures in force, participants are strongly advised to arrive before 9 a.m. in order to complete entry procedures in good time and proceed to the meeting in the E-Building (Bâtiment E) of the Palais. Participants are requested to carry a passport or similar national identity card with them. Taxis are not allowed to enter the grounds of the Palais des Nations, and visitors will therefore be dropped off at the entrance gates. Furthermore, luggage may not be brought into the buildings unless the United Nations Security Service gives special clearance.

Further information and contact details

Nominations and related communications concerning representation at the meeting should be sent to the UNCTAD secretariat, Intergovernmental Affairs and Outreach Service, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10; fax: + 41(0) 22 917 0214; e-mail: correspondence@unctad.org.

All other enquiries should be addressed to the coordinators in the substantive division, Ms. Fulvia Farinelli, tel.: +41 (0)22 917 5869; fax: +41 (0)22 917 0122; e-mail: fulvia.farinelli@unctad.org or Ms. Vanessa Mc Carthy, tel.:+41 (0)22 917 5899; e-mail: vanessa.mccarthy@unctad.org.

(signed)

Supachai Panitchpakdi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD
29 August 2007


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