Since April 2019, and already in its predecessor phase, Support of Regional Economic Cooperation in Asia Project (SRECA) jointly with partners implemented multiple activities to improve trade-related services for SMEs, providing capacity building measures, setting up exchanges or issue sectoral studies and guidelines. To close the project and give partners the chance to exchange on outcomes and further cooperation possibilities, SRECA organised its Closing Workshop in Bangkok on 15-16 March 2023.

Project Director Florian Miss announces the Close of SRECA

The Closing was attended by delegations from five countries. The delegation from China only joined virtually. Overall, there were around 30 delegates gathered together with the SRECA team. The delegates came from both government agencies, trade associations and private sector businesses. Specifically, they are from the General Directorate of Agriculture in Cambodia, WeMall – the platform in Cambodia which aims to sell high quality women-made products, Guangxi Office on Planning, Development and Management of the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone in China (BG Office), China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association, Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Foreign Trade Policy Department, Export International Trade Centre Mongolia, Mongolian Women Entrepreneurs Council, Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Industry and Trade in Vietnam, Vietnamese SPS Office, Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council, Vietnam Trade promotion Agency from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

While announcing the close of the SRECA project, the Workshop was designed also to stimulate further conversations and collaborations on Agricultural trade practices for stakeholders in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, together with its neighbouring countries and beyond. The Workshop was kick-started with a keynote speech from Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta, Director of Trade & Investment Facilitation Department from the Mekong Institute. He highlighted out the importance to balance export promotion of agricultural products with domestic food security in each country of the region; in addition, the significance of transport infrastructure in creating trade potentials. The key-note speech was followed by a vivid fish-bowl discussion. Delegates delved into the topics of business alliance, efficient ways of utilising digital channels to disseminate crucial info, the controversies of trade areas and their connection / socially imposed connection with gender.

Fishbowl discussion at the Workshop

The project director Mr. Florian Miss, together with the local partners in Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam reviewed the outputs and impacts of SRECA in the past four years. Out of the past practices, partners especially promoted export promotion measures such as utilising gallery as a way of branding local products, participatory virtual exhibition, online courses, production and dissemination of export promotion videos, and study tours outside of their home countries. Representatives from the women entrepreneuers council or women-led business platforms also specially highlighted the benefits of exchange between women entrepreneurs’ councils.

Partner from Mongolia reviewing cooperation with SRECA

Delegates from CIQA and BG Office, China, also looked back on their journeys organising triangular activities with the local partners and SRECA, as well as delineating their aspirations to continue working with the partners and GIZ on topics such as export promotion, women entrepreneurs empowerment and green agriculture.

Interests to further the impacts of SRECA’s measures have been expressed across the delegates. To further potential cooperation to support the development of agri-trade industry across Cambodia, Laos Mongolia and Vietnam, projects in GIZ such as the Sino-German Centre for Sustainable Development and Trico Fund Asia which mandates in establishing triangular cooperation between Germany, China and a third country (often from the development context), and Promotion of Growth and Employment in the Private Sector (PROGRES) which aims to promote economic growth and innovation to create new jobs in Mongolia, analysed into the possibilities of working with the partners in the future.

The Workshop was closed with Project Director Florian Miss and the SRECA Team exchanging gratitude with the partners. It is expected that the networks and outcomes SRECA has created together with its partners will yield sustainable changes with domestic and international efforts in the future.