Trade and Investment Facilitation

On November 25, the Trade Facilitation Office Canada (TFO Canada) with the financial assistance of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC/ CRDI), in partnership with regional research organizations the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) and Mekong Institute (MI) launched the final findings of the research study conducted under the “Women in Trade (WIT) Knowledge Platform to Boost Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” project. 

The study revealed that the degree of favorability towards women-owned companies varies across countries, regions, and sectors and, importantly, that there was no compelling evidence of higher favorability towards women-owned SMEs engaged in exports.

In addition, the study also found that providers of capital would benefit from gender mainstreaming training, which would allow them to respond to women-led entrepreneurs’ unique needs more effectively. While trade empowered women through job creation, female workers are often pushed into low-skilled low-paying jobs that do not contribute significantly to reductions in inequality. Various barriers surrounding traditional gender norms, information gaps and limited access to, or control over, economic resources remain daily obstacles for women engaged in trade.

This was the key findings of the three-year research project which explores how women-led SMEs from developing countries benefit from international trade opportunities, which in turn can be used by both the private and public sectors at the country, regional and global levels.

As one of the key speakers at the event, Mr. Madhurjya K. Dutta, Director of Trade and Investment Facilitation Department (TIF), and Coordinator of the Mekong-Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF), MI, presented the qualitative case studies conducted in Viet Nam and Cambodia. The results were discussed in detail and comments and clarifications were sought from the audience.

Opening the event was Ms. Patricia Peña, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada. The Global Affairs Canada is the department of the Government of Canada which manages Canada’s diplomatic and consular relations, promotes Canadian international trade, and leads Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance.

Specifically, the initiative aimed to:

  1. Produce knowledge, evidence and practical recommendations on how to boost access of women-led businesses to Canadian and global markets
  2. Establish a multi-stakeholders platform made up of researchers, civil society organizations, women-led SMEs and Trade Support Institutions (TSIs) to promote research, policies and practices toward a better participation of women in global trade.
  3. Support capacity building of the recipient and develop country research partners as thought leaders in the field of trade for development

As a follow-up to the dissemination seminar, the research report will be published in the form of a book by IDRC/Palgrave Publication in early 2023. MI will work on revising the report in the form of a book to include the qualitative case studies. This will be done in December 2022 for which a separate budget will be allotted by TFO.

The event was attended by over 40 delegates from the government, think tanks, universities and scholars.

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