The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and in partnership with the Ministry of Economy and Trade, is supporting 18 Lebanese small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agri-food, and artisanal cosmetics sectors, access the United States (U.S.) market. Within this framework, selected goods were loaded on 29 January, 2022, to be shipped to the U.S. as a first step towards offering SMEs with the needed support to diversify their export base, increase their production and promote economic recovery.
This initiative comes at a time when Lebanon is struggling with the consequences of the economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss in economic activities, revenues and jobs as well as major disruption in global supply chains affecting the competitiveness of small businesses.
The “Fast Track Export Support Programme” is part of UNDP’s ongoing efforts to support sustainable solutions that would unlock local companies’ export potential and provides a one-stop-shop solution to facilitate the entry of Lebanese goods into the U.S. market. This has been identified as a high-growth potential market for agri-food and cosmetics products.
Through this programme, UNDP, with its partners Fair Trade Lebanon and the Net Holding, will provide companies with packaging and labeling advice, training on legal and administrative requirements to enter the U.S. market, logistical support, advice on most optimal market entry strategy, as well as access to an experienced sales team. The SMEs supported by the programme employ more than 800 Lebanese women and men and work with more than 1400 farmers. This pilot initiative comes under the technical support provided by UNDP to the Ministry of Economy and Trade on trade policy reform and facilitation.
“As the Ministry of Economy and Trade, it’s our priority to enhance Lebanon’s rank in Ease of Doing Business by working with our partners on a sustainable business environment facilitating trade. Today, we are witnessing a pilot joint project with our partners showing a true Public Private Partnership resulting in an actual trade facilitation example.” said H.E. Mr. Amin Salam, Minister of Economy and Trade in Lebanon. “The Government has placed export at the forefront of its agenda in light of the economic challenges. Lebanon has significant untapped potential that must be capitalized on to boost productive sectors and create jobs. This Fast Track pilot initiative is the result of a series of consultations that were held between the technical team of the ministry, represented by Rola Nasrallah, with the private sector to implement initiatives that would enhance trade and is a reflection of the joint efforts between the public sector, international organizations, and the private sector” added Dr Mohammad Abou Haidar, Director General at the Ministry of Economy and Trade.
“SMEs in Lebanon are facing structural barriers that are preventing them from accessing key markets outside Lebanon. Our support to SMEs is critical for the growth of small businesses, and Lebanon’s sustainable economic recovery. Accessing the U.S. market is only one step towards achieving this goal and we look forward to replicating this model across other markets” said Celine Moyroud, UNDP Resident Representative.
“We are happy to be partnering with international organizations to provide our members with opportunities to access new promising markets” added Ms Amira Mourad, Berytech’s Director of Programs for SMEs whose members are benefiting from the program. “We always believed that our companies have the potential to compete internationally and we are happy they can benefit from this support” added Mr Georges Nasroui, Vice President of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists.
This initiative is part of the UNDP “Strengthening Arab Economic Integration for Sustainable Development (AEISD)” regional project which aims at furthering economic integration in the Arab states region providing technical advice and policy-oriented support to national governments and regional institutions. Under the same initiative, Moroccan cooperatives producing and commercializing Argan products and its derivatives, received technical assistance to introduce their products into the American fair-trade market.