Access to local, national, and international markets is crucial for businesses to create and sustain jobs and income. A world where national and cross-border trade is simple, fast and cost-effective, creates new business opportunities, enables greater economic growth and social development and has the potential to reduce poverty. Swisscontact, as an independent organisation, is in a privileged position to facilitate inclusive trade on all levels. Trade facilitation is expected to spark competitiveness, productivity, innovation, and growth. We aim for impact by helping small businesses to grow, by supporting women’s economic empowerment and by driving progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Through policies, rules and regulations, and Governance practice, national Governments create specific ecosystems for trade. Depending on the way that the regulator environment is shaped and implemented, trade is either fostered or hampered. Partnerships, where government and business work together as equals, are vital to ensuring that trade facilitation reforms address the needs of all stakeholders. We work to create an environment for these partnerships to flourish by acting as a neutral facilitator and catalyst while raising awareness of the importance of facilitating trade. Building trust among the various, trade-related, stakeholders is a key to our successful work.
Together with our local partners and based on our extensive on the ground experience in value chains and economic sectors, we identify trade constraints such as gaps in local market infrastructure, high transaction and transportation costs, gaps in access to, and interpretation of, information on product standards or trade hampering local or national regulations. To address such constraints, we facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue platforms with business and public sector representatives, and we support the stakeholders to identify, and act upon, solutions to address such constraints. Swisscontact’s proven approach to sustainability criteria gender equality and social inclusion, environmental responsibility, financial inclusion, and good governance helps guide us in the design of solutions together with our stakeholders.
Our facilitation work for international trade aims to integrate less developed economies better into the global economy with a specific focus on European and Swiss markets. In our partner countries in the East and the South, we work on ‘last mile’ activities with exporters and relevant trade-ecosystem partners such as business support organisations and other relevant trade partners. We help strengthen their capacity to improve the export system. The main instruments we use in our “last mile” interventions:
With the ‘first mile’, on the import side of the trade equation, we work with our stakeholders in creating awareness for sustainable international trade which focuses on producer and consumer benefits. Together with importers we identify import-side constraints and search for innovative solutions to establish inclusive and sustainable supply chains