Pandemic-hit small and medium-sized enterprises in Central Asia to get boost from European Union and International Trade Centre
The International Trade Centre (ITC) has begun the implementation phase of a four-year Ready4Trade Central Asia project to provide targeted trade development support to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The €15 million European Union-funded project contributes to sustainable and inclusive economic development of the region by supporting investment, competitiveness and trade.
ITC is launching the project against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly disrupted international trade and devastated SMEs in the region. Introducing trade easing measures − such as those that facilitate cross-border trade, increase transparency and enable e-commerce − will help mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on SMEs in Central Asia, and help alleviate its drastic economic consequences.
Despite some economic growth in recent years, Central Asian countries remain characterized by a low level of economic diversification and highly dependent on a small number of trading partners. The contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to GDP and employment in Central Asia, and their participation in the world economy, is low compared to many countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The full participation of SMEs in regional and global markets is crucial for diversifying economic activity and creating jobs.
To help spur economic growth, the Ready4Trade Central Asia project will:
- Address key regulatory and procedural obstacles to international trade
- Improve SME capacities to comply with cross-border requirements
- Improve readiness of Central Asian countries, in particular women-led companies, for conducting cross-border e-commerce
- Increase opportunities for women-led enterprises to participate in international trade
The launch of the next phase of the Ready4 Trade Central Asia project follows a six-month inception phase completed in June 2020. The project customized its approach to fit each beneficiary country’s specific needs during the inception phase. ITC will implement the project, while country project offices will coordinate activities at country level. The EU Delegation to Kazakhstan oversees the overall management of the action.
Note for the Editor - About ITC - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
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International Trade Centre
Jarle Hetland, Media Officer
P: + 41 22 730 0145
M: + 41 79 582 9180
E: hetland [at] intracen.org