MENU

by Magnolia M. Uy / Commercial Attaché Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the World Trade Organization, Philippine Trade and Investment Center Geneva

Published in Business Mirror

25 July 2017

PHILIPPINE micro- small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that want to expand their market overseas—especially in highly developed markets, such as Switzerland, the European Union (EU) and the US but are uncertain on how to proceed—can now tap the expertise and experience of international trade lawyers for free.

Sidley Austin Llp., an international law firm, launched the Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program to help poor, rural and disadvantaged communities by providing free legal support to MSMEs and market-focused non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Through technical guidance and hand-holding, MSMEs can benefit from, among others, legal-trade advice on market-access requirements, as well as better understanding intellectual property rights and patents for innovative ideas.

For many MSMEs around the world, legal barriers are among the key hindrances to trade. However, since the program’s introduction in 2012, over 120 MSMEs from more than 30 countries have benefitted. These include an Indonesian chocolate producer overcoming challenges in the EU market because its formula has to meet EU’s minimum cocoa requirement; shea producers unable to sell products containing shea to Indian buyers because of regulatory restrictions; and an African clean-cook stove enterprise entangled in an intellectual property dispute with a Chinese company.

Further, the program works toward enabling more MSMEs in developing countries to participate in e-commerce by helping them address constraints. E-commerce has always been touted as a key enabler for MSMEs worldwide to participate in global trade. However, it entails legal requirements in order to be realized. For instance, it is essential to have an effective privacy policy that protects producers and buyers during the online transaction; to carry out online business transactions on the basis of enforceable and internationally recognized buyer-seller contracts; and as intellectual property must be protected, products must also comply with market-access requirements.

The Department of Trade and Industry, through The Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Geneva, can facilitate the introduction and engagement of eligible Philippine MSMEs with the proponent. Applications for pro bono support are reviewed on a case-by-case basis through the following criteria:

  • Located in or have primary operations in a developing country in Africa, Asia, Central and South America or the Caribbean;
  • Committed to delivering a positive social impact;
  • Have established a presence in the local market (i.e., beyond start-up);
  • Agree to secure local counsel; and
  • Are unable to afford or otherwise access international legal services.

****

For more information, you can get in touch with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Geneva, Switzerland, at +41-22-9097900/ 7906/7915/7917 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. PTIC Geneva is led by our commercial attaches, TSO Maggie Uy and TSO Ella Burgos, and is located at the Philippine Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization at Rue de Lausanne 80, 1902 Geneva.

Back
to top