This note discusses how SMEs are affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic, reports on early evidence and estimates about the impact, and provides an inventory of policy responses to foster SME resilience in 60 countries. Given the rapid pace of developments, the overview of country responses is not comprehensive and in some cases includes intended policy responses that are still a work in progress, or simply at the stage of public announcements. This note is the sixth update of SME policy responses since early March 2020. Compared to the previous update, latest forecasts show an increasingly negative impact of the pandemic on global GDP growth. At the same time, whereas surveys since February show that SMEs and entrepreneurs are extremely worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their liquidity position and business survival, the most recent business surveys show some confidence improvements, possibly related to the significant policy efforts to address the SME liquidity gap and the lifting of lockdown measures in a number of countries. In this context, the policy perspective is gradually shifting from liquidity support measures for SME survival, which still remains a priority in most countries, to support for recovery.1
Chapter 2 discusses the background to SME impact and policy responses, including the most recent forecasts on the impact of COVID-19. Chapter 3 has been significantly updated, and discusses the increasing evidence on the impact on SMEs from over 40 surveys among SMEs world-wide and a growing body of economic analysis. Chapter 4 includes the synthesised analysis of country SME policy approaches. Annex 1.A. presents the overview of country SME policy responses, with further detailed information on the measures.2 Annex 1.B. provides an overview of survey results on the impact of COVID-19 on SMEs.