Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hold the key to unlocking the economic development and growth potential of the GMS member states' economies. For this potential to be realized, however, states must implement their commitments and obligations under the various ratified FTAs – especially the ASEAN FTA – and local SMEs must develop the skills and knowledge to utilize the preferential trade provisions, easier market access and other business opportunities extended through the FTA's provisions.
To assist the development of these necessary tools and knowledge in the lead-up to integration into the AEC 2015, MI recently conducted a one-week regional training program entitled, 'Enhancing the Utilization of FTAs by SMEs.' The program, which concluded last Friday (June 21) at MI headquarters in Khon Kaen, Thailand, sought to develop the capacities of representatives from CLMV-based SMEs,chambers of commerce and industry, business associations, exporters and importers in the GMS countries.
A total of 28 participants from Cambodia (5), Lao PDR (6), Myanmar (6), Vietnam (6) and Yunnan province of P.R. China (5), participated in the program,which focused on increasing understandings about regional FTA provisions, the importance of the full-implementation of ratified FTAs to attaining accelerated economic development and methods through which to promote SMEutilization of concerned provisions.
Working in groups and individually, participants developed group action-plans to help develop and localize training packages– SME national workshops – to transfer the knowledge gained through the programtotargeted SME exporters, CCIs, BAs and government agencies in their home countries.
Participants will hold the national workshops from June to September 2013, before reconvening at MI in October 2013 for the follow-up 'Synthesis and Evaluation Workshop.' On their return, participants will share their action plan-implementation experiences, re-evaluatethe level of FTA utilization by SMEs in the GMS countries, and collectively plot the way forward by articulating remaining gaps and issues before articulating a set of national policy recommendations.
The Enhancing the Utilisation of FTA by SMEs ToT training program was held as part of the three year project entitled 'Capacity Building for Integrating CLMV Economies into AEC 2015,' funded by the New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme project;