Export Impact For Good

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Astana Economic Forum 2014

  •  Astana Economic Forum - 2014

    Helping SMEs to internationalize: Navigating through thick borders

    Thursday, 22 May 2014, 11:30-13:00
    Conference hall 2, floor 2, Palace of Independence, Astana Kazakhstan

    Trade facilitation is a particularly pressing concern for landlocked countries. This session will bring together public and private-sector speakers to review real-life examples and best practices that governments and trade support institutions in developing countries can adopt to improve trade facilitation conditions for their businesses. Speakers will discuss how to benefit from the multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement, enabling SMEs to better integrate into and move up value chains.

    The panellists include:

    • H.E. Ms. Zhanar Aitzhanova, Minister of Economic Integration of Kazakhstan
    • H.E. Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
    • H.E. Mr. Zhu Gaozhang, Director of Compliance and Facilitation, World Customs Organization
    • Ms. Pelin Gunessoglu, Chairwoman West Africa, DEiK Business Council, Turkey
    • Mr. Thomas Sim, Chairman of FIATA-ABVT, Singapore

    Moderator: Ms. Arancha González, Executive Director, ITC

    The growing importance of regional and global value chains in international trade provides a unique opportunity to increase SME exports through their integration into these value chains. SMEs that play a key role in poverty reduction, income generation and job creation in developing countries can now engage in global trade flows without the need to be competent in all aspects of the production of a final output. Developing countries can thus move towards industrialization through vertical specialization in a narrowly defined segment of activities. In order to be successful however, it is important that customs procedures and non-tariff measures do not impose unreasonable burdens on SMEs.

    Developing-country SMEs are particularly affected by customs procedures and non-tariff measures

    For the private sector to use trade as a vehicle for growth, diversification and innovation, trade-related costs must be reduced. This is especially the case for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which often have to bear inordinately high costs of complying with complex customs procedures and other non-tariff measures (NTMs). Trade facilitation helps reduce costs of both border and behind-the-border processes and is thus at the very core of the efficiency of an economy or a region.

    SME participation in value chains closely linked to trade facilitation

    How a country's business environment, including border practices, import-export procedures and its legal architecture impact on its ability to trade across borders, is a key factor in foreign investment decisions. A country where inputs into products can be imported and exported within a quick and reliable time-frame is an attractive destination for foreign investors, who are looking to build value chains. Value chains provide SMEs with new opportunities to participate in international trade as they no longer need to be competitive in all aspects of the production of finished goods. The multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement, concluded at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC9) in Bali last December, has taken the particular needs of SMEs in developing, transition and least developed countries (LDCs) for trade facilitation into account. To reap the benefits of trade facilitation, these SMEs need help in addressing supply-side constraints such as a lack of skills, funding, market information or technology through business-advisory and other support services.

    ITC support for SMEs to facilitate their integration into value chains

    ITC, the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, assists SMEs in developing and transition economies in their efforts to integrate into regional and global value chains. As the advocate for SMEs among international organizations, ITC recognizes the constraints posed by inefficient trade facilitation systems. ITC works with policymakers and trade support institutions to promote trade policies and regulations that create an SME-friendly business environment.


    Astana Economic Forum 2014.


    Elena Boutrimova Ernst

    Chief, Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
    +41 (0)22 730-0474

    Miklos Gaspar

    Senior Web Officer
    +41 (0)22 730-0474