Launched in 2019, and implemented by ITC, the EaP Trade Helpdesk project is supported by the European Union (EU) as part of its EU4Business initiative. The five-year project aims to boost economic and trade relations between the Eastern Partnership countries and the European Union, and within the EaP region.
Engagement with national stakeholders
ITC, in partnership with national representatives and the EU Delegations to the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, undertook the first national stakeholder meetings on the EaP Trade Helpdesk project.
The meetings provided participants with information on:
- the objectives and expected impact of the project, and
- ongoing and planned activities in the countries and the scope for synergies with existing national initiatives.
The meetings were attended by over 200 participants from government institutions, national business support organizations and EU Delegations, as well as from research and academia. According to the attendees, the project has been launched at an opportune moment for the EaP countries: 96% believe that the project will be useful for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and 76% of them reported that the outputs of the project will be useful for their work.
Indeed, enhancing trade in the region can benefit the EaP economies significantly. According to ITC’s estimations, there is USD 1’572 million of untapped export potential in trade among the EaP countries. Moreover, improved links to the EU can potentially lead to an additional USD 14’075 million in exports, further indicating the timeliness of the project.
The EAP Trade Helpdesk Portal is in development
The portal will be a customized window for SMEs allowing them to identify trade opportunities in the region and the EU and obtain detailed market information about access conditions.
The trade information in the portal will include:
- Trade statistics and trade indicators for originating and destination countries
- Export potential data to identify products and markets with (untapped) export potential as well as opportunities for export diversification
- Customs tariffs, applied MFN tariffs at the national tariff line level, preferential tariffs, trade agreements and related rules of origin
- Compulsory requirements (non-tariff measures): product specific as well as general requirements applied by the EU and EaP countries on their imports and exports
- Business contacts: list of trading companies and their contact details, searchable by product
The Portal will also include a Help Centre that will allow users to ask questions, provide suggestions and give feedback. The Help Centre will be relying on the network of the national focal points to provide timely answers to country-specific queries. The portal will be designed to complement information available from national web sites and will include links to these sources.
Portal: the beta version
The portal is currently being developed and the beta version will be launched by the end of the year. The portal will be tested and finetuned to best fit the needs of SMEs in the region.
Users in EaP countries will be able to register for free and access the trade intelligence from the portal that draws on ITC’s Market Analysis tools and specialised trade analysis on the region. A link will also be provided to the EU’s Access to Market database.
The platform will be made available in all national languages of the EaP countries to ensure greater user friendliness for local SMEs.
NTM surveys: the selection process is on the way
ITC's programme on non-tariff measures (NTMs) aims at increasing transparency and helping countries better understand the non-tariff obstacles to trade faced by their business sectors at home and abroad.
As a part of the project, ITC will conduct NTM surveys that will collect business experiences to gain a holistic understanding about the trade regulations and procedural difficulties hindering exporters across the EaP countries.
The process to select the partners to implement the surveys is underway and will be finalized in the coming months. The survey is expected to cover over 4,000 exporters across EaP region, providing actionable results that will be presented by mid-2022 in each country.
Trade in services data collection and capacity building
The project also seeks to improves the collection and dissemination of trade in services data, aiming to build the capacity of relevant agencies’ to collect and process this type of data in each EaP country. To do so, as a first step, the EaP Trade Helpdesk team undertakes an assessment of the current practices and processes in place, working in collaboration with national statistical agencies and central banks.
The initial assessment of trade in services data collection and dissemination has been completed in Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Moreover, the capacity building programme on the management of bilateral transport sector data in Georgia will start in July.
The EaP Trade Helpdesk project is implemented in cooperation with the following institutions:
Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia, the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Enterprise Georgia, The Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure of Moldova, and the Export Promotion Office of the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine.
EU4Business is an umbrella initiative that includes all EU support to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the Eastern Partnership countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. EU4Business supports SME growth by improving access to finance and business development services, and by promoting better business regulation.
More general information on www.eu4business.eu. For more information about the Eastern Partnership Trade Helpdesk, please contact ITC’s Trade and Market Intelligence Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.