The International Trade Centre (ITC) has officially launched the EU4Business ‘Ready to Trade’ project in Armenia. The purpose of the event was to present to the business community, institutions and government officials the main findings of its value chain analysis for selected product groups, and the roadmap of forthcoming project activities.
The launch event took place in Yerevan on 4 July. In his opening remarks, Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Armen Harutyunyan said the initiative was an “example of assistance project that is most needed in Armenia, specifically directed at assisting SMEs”, which face numerous problems in exporting to international markets.
Ashish Shah, Director, Division of Country Programmes at the ITC, also highlighted the importance of the project for Armenian SMEs. “The assessment of SMEs from the selected product groups revealed the existing problems related to exporting to international markets, and the project will conduct concrete steps to address those problems.”
The Deputy Head of the Cooperation Department of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Gregory Tsouris, expressed the EU’s readiness to continue its support to SMEs, which he described as the driving force of economic development.
Main support needs
The three main support needs indicated by Armenian processing and export companies are market promotion/trade fair participation (60% of companies), financial support (48% of companies) and technological and logistical advice (25% of companies). The company assessment showed that the lack of relevant EU food safety certifications and quality management practices, and unstable and insufficient raw material supply are the other two main constraints faced by SMEs.
Based on the results of the value chain analyses of the three product groups: processed fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and vegetables, herb/herbal teas, the following work packages and activities were proposed for the project beneficiary companies. The activities will be prioritised for each beneficiary company based on individual company development plans.
- Preparation of company specific development plans (QM system assessment; Process modernisation assessment; Supply chain assessment; Export marketing assessment)
- Improved quality management and certification (Basic QM trainings in groups; Individual quality management consultancy; Support of certification schemes for selected companies)
- Modernisation of machinery and processes (Advice on process modernization; Advice on the use of modern ICT tools; Facilitation of linkages with EU equipment suppliers)
- Intensified market linkages with EU buyers (Training on EU market requirements; Organization of trade fair participations; Inward and outward buyer missions; Capacity building of export promotion organisations)
- Strengthened linkages with raw material suppliers (Establish pilot contract farming business models; Promote cooperative business models)
ITC started the implementation of the ‘Ready to Trade’ project in March 2018. The project is funded by the European Union as part of the EU4Business initiative, and aims to improve the competitiveness of SMEs in Armenia and other Eastern Partnership countries and to connect them to international and EU markets.