The Eastern Partnership (EaP) Trade Helpdesk web portal has reached over 7,600 users since its launch more than two years ago, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), business support organizations (BSOs), and other entities.
The EaP Trade Helpdesk project was launched in 2019 by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and is supported by the EU as part of the EU4Business initiative. Designed to span a duration of five years, the project seeks to enhance trade and economic connections both within the region itself and between the EaP and the EU.
The EaP region has a $563.2 million intra-regional trade potential and a $7.46 billion trade potential in the European Union. With the help of the EaP Trade Helpdesk’s web portal SMEs in these countries can explore different export opportunities, see specific requirements and procedures, identify new partners, and expand in new markets.
The platform that the project created is a distinctive regional web portal that consolidates trade intelligence regarding market opportunities and requirements in EaP countries. It utilizes information gathered by the ITC and national institutions on aspects such as tariffs, taxes, trade statistics, regulatory demands, and potential business partners. Offered in seven languages the platform is free and adapted for local SMEs.
With a goal to provide EaP firms with easily accessible trade information and promote the EaP Trade Helpdesk platform, a variety of in-person and virtual training programs were organized. These courses were specifically designed for government institutions and BSOs to facilitate market research and identify new opportunities in both EaP and EU markets, thereby empowering local businesses.
In addition to the physical training sessions, businesses in each EaP country have also benefited from free webinars designed for the private sector. They offer an overview and practical introduction to the EaP Trade Helpdesk portal and to date, have reached over 200 participants, providing them with valuable insights and knowledge.
In Ukraine, a series of webinars aimed to support businesses in their efforts to diversify into new markets. Despite a full-scale war that has been going on since the beginning of 2022, these webinars have provided valuable insights to over 200 participants. Valeriya Zabashta, who leads the UCCI team for new forms of international cooperation, emphasized the importance of the portal amid ongoing war, stating, "Ukrainian businesses confirm the demand for the portal in these realities”.
“The portal significantly simplifies access to information for enterprises that lack sufficient experience in analysis and information search, as well as for those who are not proficient in English. In addition to statistical information on multiple countries, users gain access to high-quality data visualizations through ITC tools, which reduces the time needed for market analysis," she added.
As part of the project's trade barrier component, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 2,500 companies in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova, with the objective to identify the non-tariff barriers to trade that these companies encounter. National stakeholder meetings will be held to generate recommendations for addressing these barriers, wherever possible.
Comprehensive guidelines outlining the essential administrative procedures for exporting a range of significant products from the EaP countries have been identified and will be accessible on the platform by the end of 2023.