Innovation, Recovery Plan and Digital Transition toward Inclusive and Sustainable Trade: How Aid for Trade has Accelerated Digital Transition in Asian LDCs

Sucharita Bhattacharjee

Targeted and timely recovery plans/actions implemented by trade ministries have helped MSMEs to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, grants targeted to priority groups (e.g. women, youth, rural entrepreneurs) supported by Australia, EIF, UNDP and others have made the transition from offline to online faster, more inclusive and sustainable, accelerating digital transformation and transition as well as improving e readiness. This session provided lessons learnt, highlighted best practices, demonstrated the value of partnerships and the importance of re-activeness for coordinated actions between governments, private sector and development partners.

E-commerce is becoming an alternative to mitigate COVID19 challenges and impacts on the economy. With the judicial use of delivery service mechanism, online marketing can help the business community to diversify their business opportunities. This session focused on growth of E-Commerce and the digital transition towards a better trade regime that stops supply chain disruption.

Signing partnership agreement with lab or hubs specialised in tech start up, developing training / monitoring program to support development of e-commerce capacity, preparation of an ‘E-commerce ready readiness checklist’ have been few of the noteworthy initiatives by the Royal Government of Cambodia in collaboration with the private sector to facilitate the growth of E-commerce sector in the country. Success stories were presented to show the result yielded in different parts of the Nation with supports received from the Development Partners in collaboration with the Government and Private sector promoting women, youth and SME driven growth of E-commerce platforms.

Panelists put emphasis on the importance of identification of key bottlenecks for further development of this sector including requirement of provision for soft infrastructure, financial investment etc. A detailed discussion on adoption, acceleration and upscaling of the E-Commerce domain in Cambodia, navigating the complex covid-19 challenges was undertaken in this session.

It was highlighted that the key areas where more support is required are in the domains of marketing, education and awareness of sellers, logistics, skill training etc.. Panelists discussed, it is imperative to build a strong investment climate by exploring possibilities of an integrated ecosystem with its various stakeholders for innovative financing partnerships. Capacity building programs to enable these stakeholders to promote investment opportunities in a nation and facilitate an inclusive as well as sustainable trade regime.

On the panel were H.E LCT Tekreth Kamrang – Secretary of State, Ministry of Commerce, Ratnakar Adhikari – Executive Director, Executive Secretariat, Enhanced Integrated Framework, Long Kemvichet – Deputy Director General of General Department of International Trade, Ministry of Commerce, Chea Ratha – CEO of Khmum and Versita PTY Limited, at Khmum and Versita PTY Limited, Vice President of Cambodia Digital Tech Association, Nick Beresford – Country Coordinator, UNDP Cambodia, Jeremy Green – Assistant Secretary, Multilateral Trade Policy Branch, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Violeta Gonzalez Behar – Head of Partnerships, Resource Mobilisation and Communications, Executive Secretariat, Enhanced Integrated Framework. The session was moderated by Sven Callebaut – International Trade Adviser, MoC Cambodia.

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