IFC Helps Countries of Europe and Central Asia Boost Trade and Economic Growth
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Georgia’s Revenue Service opened a two-day peer-to-peer learning conference on international trade in Batumi to help countries in Europe and Central Asia enhance cross-border trade and boost economic growth.
The conference brings together around 70 participants from 17 countries, including customs officials, senior members of government, and private sector players. Expert panelists come from the World Customs Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the European Commission. They will discuss ways countries can improve their competitiveness and gain access to international markets. That is considered important in Europe and Central Asia, where cross-border can be slow and expensive, holding back economic growth.
“Enhancing international trade will help bring tangible benefits to all our countries,” said Vakhtang Lashkaradze, the Deputy Director General of Georgia's Revenue Service. “We are pleased to co-host this important learning forum as we believe Georgia has a lot to share and also learn from other countries. Our joint efforts will help boost private sector growth across the region.”
The World Bank Group helps governments around the world implement measures to maximize trade competitiveness, including streamlining border clearance procedures. As a result, businesses can enjoy reduced inspection rates, simplified procedures, reduced times for clearing and transporting goods, and lowered operating costs, while also enabling government agencies to operate more efficiently.
“Governments in Europe and Central Asia have demonstrated a strong interest in simplifying international trade procedures,” said Jesper Kjaer, IFC Senior Manager, Europe and Central Asia. “This conference aims to create a learning forum on these issues and is part of our efforts to help reduce trade barriers across borders to boost economic growth in these countries.”
The initiative forms part of the World Bank Group’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, a joint practice of the World Bank and IFC, which helps countries accelerate private sector growth by creating simple, efficient, business-friendly practices, while ensuring public interests are protected.
As part of these efforts, the Trade Facilitation Support Program is helping developing countries implement trade facilitation reforms, thus leading to increased trade, investments, and job creation. The program is supported by the Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, the European Commission, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, UKaid, and USAID. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance also supported this conference. In fiscal year 2015, IFC invested almost $18 million in developing countries worldwide.