Funded by Global Affairs Canada and managed by Cowater International in association with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, the Canadian Trade and Investment Facility (CTIF) works to facilitate more inclusive, sustainable and poverty-reducing trade and investment in eligible Asia-Pacific countries.
CTIF experts work with governments, regional organisations, the private sector and non-governmental stakeholders to improve policy-making practices and increase access to markets and finance by Asia-Pacific-based SMEs, particularly those led by women.
Among other CTIF-financed mandates underway, CTIF has been assisting Vietnam’s Ministry of International Trade (MOIT) and Vietnamese exporters with identifying new opportunities for trade with Canada created by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.
Touted by many as the new ‘gold standard’ for modern free trade agreements, the CPTPP was signed by 11 parties, including Canada and Vietnam. Its members represent approximately 495 million consumers and 13.5% of global GDP. However, none of its benefits will be realized without adequate awareness, enforcement and take-up of its new provisions.
This is what CTIF’s $260K, 12-month mandate titled ‘Making the CPTPP Work for Vietnamese SMEs” set out to help address. The technical assistance is being delivered by Canada’s Trade Facilitation Office (TFO), a non-profit organisation, in two phases: training of trainers on opportunities and challenges of CPTPP, with a focus on Canada, and trade-related online training and technical assistance.
Beginning with a workshop in December 2019 in Canada, TFO experts delivered a master trainers workshop for 10 Vietnamese trade officials and industry representatives on the basics of export management and marketing, legal and procedural requirements to export to Canada, and gender and environmental considerations in trade, all in the context of the CPTPP.
One participant noted the utility of the workshop’s apparel industry and sustainability-specific content, while another highlighted the benefits of bringing together champions from the public sector who could further disseminate related materials and know-how across government for later use. A total of 30 Vietnamese master trainers will have completed professional development modules through TFO by June 2020. Adapting to travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19, TFO has collaborated with CTIF and the MOIT to develop and deliver training virtually through web-based tools for remaining trainees.
Later this year, once trained and in collaboration with CTIF and TFO, these officials will go on to provide technical support to up to 300 Vietnamese SMEs, half of which are women-led, including 45 on an intensive 1:1 basis. Sectors of focus include apparel, agri-food, seafood, and furniture and handicrafts.
As a result of such support, CTIF expects that this mandate will contribute in an important way to increasing sustainable trade between Canada and Vietnam to the benefit of both Vietnamese and Canadian businesses, workers and consumers.
Picture credits: TFO Canada
Picture caption: MOIT CPTPP Master Trainers posing in front of an Asian supermarket in Montreal (Dec. 2019)