First Tajik-Finnish Business Seminar. Talking Points by Dr. Pratibha Mehta, UNDP Resident RepresentativeOct 31, 2017
First Tajik-Finnish Business Seminar
31 October 2017, 10:30
Hyatt Regency Dushanbe
by Dr. Pratibha Mehta,
UNDP Resident Representative
Honourable Vice Chairperson of the State Committee on Investments and State Property Management, Ms. Nigina Anvari,
Your Excellency, Roving Ambassador of the Government of Finland, Mr. Niklas Linqvist,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is great pleasure to be at this important first Tajik-Finnish business meeting for trade promotion just a month before Finland’s 100 independence anniversary.
UNDP has been privileged with a long and very successful collaboration with the Government of Finland, always with a strong focus on the rights and opportunities of the people which we serve. The Government of Finland has been particularly supportive to the UN system in its endeavours of integrating sustainability and equality throughout the development agenda. The recent Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Tajikistan and the Government of Finland highlighting the areas of collaboration is a testimony to the long-standing cooperation of the two nations.
Tajikistan for its part has seen good developmental progress over the past decade, significantly reducing its poverty rate from 81% in 1999 to 32 % by the end of 2014 benefitting millions of people. To achieve this Tajikistan placed tremendous efforts in taking forward social and economic reforms, as well as improving the business and investment climate within the country.
The Republic of Tajikistan, as a fully-fledged member of the world community, makes great efforts to integrate into the world economy, resulting in economic reforms carried out in recent years, such as easing business processes reducing the number of necessary licenses from 650 to 74, as well as improving the country’s “Doing Business” ranking by ten points resulting in the country being included in the list of the ten best reformers. The Government of Tajikistan has also recently approved the Export Promotion and Increasing Competitiveness Programme (EPIC) which represents dedicated efforts of the Government and the donor community to support the private sector in increasing its competitiveness, accessing new markets and boost exports.
Despite all this progress, many challenges remain ahead of us. The aim of the Government and the private sector to increase diversification, competitiveness and economic effectiveness within a job creation lens is vital to ensure that youth have opportunities for decent jobs allowing for upward movement.
While the region possesses huge potential, competition on global markets is extremely high and accessing markets for many commodities extremely complex. Much of the competition on the main products is on price and quantity – with often poor outcomes on upward mobility for the labour force.
With the support of the Government of Finland, UNDP has been able to support countries in the region during the past 8 years in accessing trade benefits. The Aid for Trade project has made a wealth of experiences during this time and has managed to leverage exports in targeted CA countries totalling over USD 400 mln. The project has witnessed increasing global competition in terms of prices, quantities and quality standards. Global markets are evolving rapidly and adaptation to these changes is vital for the survival of businesses. More efforts need to be made on developing quality standards but also taking account highly volatile customer demands in export markets. In this context, it is important to have dedicated market intelligence supporting the private sector in identifying export market preferences and product niches. Global markets are changing at a very fast pace and strong supportive business environments are important to ensure that businesses can bring the benefits of trade to local economies. Tajikistan needs to step further and develop innovative approaches to access new markets and high-end niche markets and support its businesses in doing so. The region has incredible potentials but it can only fully benefit from these potentials, if it works together to make the change happen. Cooperation and coordination between countries and businesses remain essential to harvest the potential of this region. Fragmentation of production within the region hinders the growth potential of all countries. Value chains that take into consideration the potential of regional production will make the products of all countries more competitive.
The private sector also needs to adapt to rapidly changing markets and consumer demands. Those that remain still will not be able to compete and only those that are flexible and are able to reinvent themselves and their products will be able to remain profitable and contribute to employment generation. UNDP believes in the importance of trade for sustainable development. The relationship between those are complex and care needs to be made that growth/trade patterns contribute to equality. The experience made within the Aid for Trade project has demonstrated that environmental sustainability is not a burden but rather needs to be perceived as an opportunity that can be profitable. We stand ready to continue our collaboration between the United Nations, the Government of Tajikistan and the private sector both in Tajikistan and Finland to support the implementation of the SDG agenda.