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SMEs handed timely boost

2013-06-14 11:30:54

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A programme aimed at helping small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Viet Nam improve their export performance and international competitiveness was launched yesterday in Ha Noi.

The four-year project has a total budget of over US$3.89 million, with Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) contributing $3.32 million and the remainder funded by the Vietnamese Government.

Do Thang Hai, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Trade Promotion Agency, said the programme would strengthen trade promotion offices' and trade support institutions' capacities so they would be eligible to provide exporting SMEs with professional services.

The trade environment would also be improved through enhanced capacity at central Government level for the implementation of the national export-import strategy, he said, adding that expanding the brief of Vietrade as the country's lead trade promotion system would be another objective.

It will be executed nationally by Vietrade in conjunction with regional support institutions from Hai Phong, Da Nang, Can Tho and neighbouring provinces.

Vietnamese SMEs still faced enormous challenges, Brigitte Bruhin, Deputy Country Director of Swiss Co-operation Office, Embassy of Switzerland, said, adding that some were related to difficult frameworks and business conditions, as well as difficulties accessing finance and limited export skills.

"The main question is whether governmental agencies and trade supporting organisations sufficiently understand the needs of SMEs," she said.

She called for more SME support, not only strategically on its trade policy framework, but also practically in providing them with relevant market networks, easier access to finance, effective technical assistance and reducing administrative burdens to facilitate successful trade.