The EU and ITC will support Central Asian SMEs − including those led by women − to increase trade volumes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
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:
The launch of the next phase of the Ready4TradeCentral 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.