The Mekong Institute (MI) conducted a one-week advanced Training of Trainer (TOT) Program on Enhancing the Utilization of FTA by SMEs from 18 – 22 August, 2014. The program is part of the three-year project on Capacity Building for Integrating CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) Economies into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP).
The objective of the training was to understand the importance of FTA and its utilization procedure in regional and international trade to promote the utilization of FTAs by SMEs.
A total of 27 GMS participants from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand attended the program. They are mid-to-senior officials from Chambers of Commerce and Industries (CCIs) and SME associations, Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Foreign Trade Policy Department, SME owners, professors and lecturers from universities.
Through this one-week training, the participants acquired necessary knowledge and skills to use FTA for their business and work purpose. These knowledge and skills include rules to follow from various international/regional organizations/agreements involved in trade in services, Non-Tariff Measures (NTM), SME export products, custom cooperation, trade facilitation and Rules of Origin (RoO). The participants also had the chance to practice the FTA negotiation through simulation exercises. Key items including Negative/ Sensitive/ Exclusion List, tariff negotiations and time frame, tracks of liberalization and trade/ tariff line coverage were covered in the simulations. As a result of these practical exercises, participants could better understand the effective process, strategies and tactics in trade negotiation for policy-making and practical use.
Based on the knowledge and skills they learned from the training courses, participants will start to put their assignments - action plans into implementation by organizing workshops in their home countries to localize the training package during October 2014.