Remarks by Ms. Alissar Chaker, Resident Representative, UNDP Cambodia
Workshop: Introduction to Export Readiness and Cross Border E-commerce for MSMEs
August 29, 2022
Her Excellency TEKRETH Kamrang, Secretary of State, Ministry of Commerce (MoC)
His Excellency Dr. Chhieng Vanmunin, CEO of Khmer Enterprise,
Distinguished guests, and participating MSMEs,
I am extremely delighted to welcome you all to this workshop on introducing export readiness and cross border e-commerce for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). I congratulate the MSMEs who have successfully completed the MSMEs Incubation Programme on Business Digitalization, those who have been selected for the Innovation Challenge for Business Digitalization and E-commerce Acceleration Programme, and those who have been onboarded to the CambodiaTrade.com platform.
I would like also to express my deep gratitude to our partners, the Ministry of Commerce, Khmer Enterprise, and Young Entrepreneurs’ Association in Cambodia for the collaborative effort. Bringing together the MSMEs today shows very much the extraordinary effort of all those involved in the promotion and development of needed skills to increase economic opportunities for Cambodian SMEs to participate in the Digital Economy.
Excellencies, and Distinguished guests.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the importance of digital transformation for resilience. It has also shown e-commerce as a powerful medium for connecting with customers and being part of a wider supply chain, and as a new, efficient, and highly competitive business model.
MSMEs play a crucial role in the Cambodian economy, contributing approximately 58% to GDP and creating about 70% of the total employment in Cambodia. Equally important to note, the majority of MSMEs owners are women. Hence, the reforms undertaken by the Royal Government of Cambodia for strengthening, digitalising, and diversifying this productive sector and enhancing trade-related competitiveness and growth potentials are commendable.
We cannot discount the fact that digital innovation is transforming the global economy, including in Cambodia. Digital trade and information technologies that characterize today’s society provide access to markets that were previously considered unreachable. The barrier of geographical distance has been removed: consumer choices are no longer restricted and limited to those goods and services available in local stores. E-commerce platforms provide consumers with access to global markets in real time. Likewise, producers, such as MSMEs in Cambodia, can reach consumers of goods and services almost instantly and in ways that were previously unimaginable, all thanks to new technologies.
There is a need to reform the rules that govern trade, and these should be designed in a manner to ensure inclusiveness. Hence, the relevance of the central question addressed by this programme – how can MSMEs in Cambodia be ensured that the changes brought by digital technologies benefit all and support inclusive growth?
UNDP prioritizes digital transformation in all its interventions and considers it as accelerator for recovery, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. In this regard, UNDP Cambodia is supporting the vision of the Royal Government of Cambodia on promoting MSMEs’ growth with a focus on business digitalization and e-commerce and engaging the private sector in innovation to achieve Cambodia’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP’s contribution over the past few years includes, but is not limited to:
- COVID-19 response with e-commerce promotion for business continuity and resilience (ex. three e-commerce campaigns, farmers onboarding onto AgriTech platforms, among others)
- Virtual job matching forum with the National Employment Agency (NEA)
- Access to Credit Guarantee Scheme for SMEs
- Innovation challenge on plastic alternatives for sustainable e-commerce.
- Innovation challenge on business digitalization and e-commerce acceleration.
Excellencies, distinguished guests, and participating MSMEs.
The potential for e-commerce is significant and promising for economic diversification, job creation, and financial inclusion. It also contributes to improved lives and livelihoods. Yet, in these critical times of the pandemic, MSMEs operating off-line face immense challenges for business continuity as well as maintaining a competitive edge during and post-COVID-19, where digital acceleration has changed the way business is done.
Cambodia has considerable advantages that could be leveraged to create ICT jobs and benefit the national economy. Yet E-commerce is relatively underdeveloped compared to its neighbours (Thailand and Vietnam) and has not yet contributed to export diversification despite its potential in particular agricultural commodities, handicrafts and garments. This has put the Kingdom at a disadvantage in terms of competitiveness and integration into regional and global trade networks.
The Royal Government of Cambodia has undertaken a series of broad-based reforms aimed at strengthening/diversifying the productive sector base and achieving economic and trade related competitiveness. This ambition is declared in key policy documents, namely, the fourth Rectangular strategy, the National Strategy Development Plan (2019-2023), the Cambodia Trade Integration Strategy Update (2019-2023) and the Cambodia E-Commerce Strategy (launched in 2020).
To date, we have worked in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, Khmer Enterprise, and Young Entrepreneurs’ Association in Cambodia and intensively trained a total of 101 MSMEs through the “MSMEs Digitalization Incubation programme” enhancing their capabilities to uptake the e-commerce solution for selling online both domestically and cross-border. In addition, UNDP Cambodia is supporting 70 MSMEs through the “Innovation Challenge on Business Digitalisation and E-commerce Acceleration” to provide MSMEs with the opportunity for tapping into innovative solutions to accelerate business digital transition and e-commerce application to reach broader clientele both in domestic and international markets.
Today, this workshop will be one of many activities to building capacity amongst MSMEs for engaging in cross border e-commerce, and equipping participating MSMEs with knowledge and insights on export-readiness through learning from the CambodiaTrade.com e-marketplace platform, and peer experience of MSMEs who have successfully conducted cross border e-commerce during the Incubation Programme and on CambodiaTrade.com.
In closure, I would like to conclude by reconfirming UNDP’s commitment to supporting and partnering with the private sector and the Royal Government of Cambodia to accelerate socio-economic recovery and promote sustainable development and growth in Cambodia that leaves no one behind.
Wishing you a good continuation and fruitful exchanges.