Written by Mekong Institute  

The Mekong Institute (MI) conducted a one-week Training of Trainer (ToT) program on “Enhancing the Utilization of FTA by SMEs” from June 17-21, 2013 at its Residential Training Center in Khon Kaen, Thailand. This ToT program is part of the three-year project on “Capacity Building for the Integration of CLMV Economies into ASEAN Economic Community” from 2012-2014, funded by New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP).

Twenty-eight (28) participants from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and China attended this training program comprising of senior and mid level officials from private sector bodies, namely chambers of commerce and industry, business associations, exporters and importers from the GMS countries.  

The program aimed to develop the capacities of the participants to deepen their understanding and improve their knowledge with the necessary skills for greater utilization of FTAs in the regional and global trade. This training applied a Training of Trainer (ToT) approach to build up capacities of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, business association, SME exporters, BDS providers and officials from the government agencies so that they can localize and replicate the ToT package in the respective countries.

Dr. Tamanna Chaturvedi from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), India, acted as resource person to deliver specific topics on WTO, RTA/FTA, tariff negotiation, tariff reduction, NTM, trade facilitation, ROO, and FTA utilization and evaluation. Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta, an in-house resource person, shared a session on evaluating status of SME in GMS countries, and Dr. Nittana Southiseng shared a session on assessing business opportunities for SMEs in integration of AEC 2015. The training program was delivered through four inter-related modules:

Module 1: Understanding the conceptual framework of an RTA/FTA and its implications in regional SME Context
Module 2: Understanding negotiating issues in FTA: case study of FTAs signed by GMS
Module 3: Accessing trade benefits of FTA: case study of AFTA
Module 4: Promoting the utilization of FTAs by SMEs as per the regional and international requirements

As part of the training requirements, the participants developed action plans to localize training packages to conduct National Workshop on Enhancing the Utilization of FTA by SMEs in CLMV countries and China – to transfer the knowledge gained to the local SME exporters, CCIs, BAs and government agencies in their respective countries. The national workshops will be organized within three months period from June to August 2013, before reconvening at MI in October 2013.

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