Trade and development agencies join forces to boost Central Asia’s capacity to export

Nov 23, 2017

Expanding their exports to the Russian market has enabled the ProTex factory in Chust, Uzbekistan to provide more jobs locally. Photo: Karen Cirillo/UNDP

Istanbul, 23 November 2017 – Three international organizations launched a new trade intelligence training programme for Central Asia, to support the trade and export capacities of the businesses in this region. 

The programme aims to help businesses to understand opportunities in trade flows, and focus on Trade Support Institutions (TSIs) to increase their familiarity and capacity to use available tools to identify export opportunities, as well as market entry requirements, to deliver these tools to their SMEs. 

“SMEs are the backbone of economy, and they drive the country’s growth, innovation and job creation. We are pleased with the collaboration with the UN’s Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) to reach out to Central Asia and bridge their trade capacities and prepare them for international trade.” commented Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC). 

“I am proud that ITC has provided its technical expertise in trade and market analysis at this workshop in partnership with the ITFC and UNDP. The Regional Trade Intelligence Training Program for Central Asia will enable participants from seven Central Asia countries to provide valuable advisory services to their local businesses and also allow them undertake market feasibility studies to help channel exports to the markets with the highest potential,” said Aichatou Pouye, Director of Division of Market Development at ITC.

Countries in the Central Asian region face increasing global competition for their main export products, “We know that a $1 worth of investment in market intelligence leverages $35. So we need to give companies the support they require to take full advantage of global trade, and identify new niche products that are sustainable, create jobs and ultimately contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.” said George Bouma, Cluster Leader of Sustainable Development at the UNDP’s Istanbul Regional Hub.

Trade is inextricably linked with the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, allowing countries to generate revenue from what they produce, increase the fiscal space and boost employment. Ensuring developing countries have access to global markets is considered an effective way to build new industries and strengthen their economies.

To boost the Central Asian companies’ capacity to export, the new programme will work closely with Trade Support Institutions from seven countries, as they play an important role in empowering companies in tackling market requirements and diversifying target markets.

The participating countries to the first phase of the training programme in Istanbul are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Trade and Market Intelligence section (TMI) has developed the course to help TSI representatives respond to requests on perceived export opportunities. The course integrates ITC Tools and methodologies as well as other elements of trade information required to effectively plan a market entry. Successful certified trainers are expected to organize at least one training event in their country after their certification to achieve wide dissemination of the information provided.

The new programme is a result of partnership between the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Trade Centre (ITC).

Contact information

ITFC – Raghda Elsharawy,, +966 56 774 9223
ITC - Jarle Hetland, +41 79 582 91 80,
UNDP - Faik Uyanık,, +90 312 454 11 00


A new platform, OutSpoken, goes live as country profiles show enduring violence, discrimination, stigma and exclusion of LGBTI people in the region.

Istanbul, 8 December – A new series of video testimonies explores what it is like to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) in the Western Balkans. 

Recounting tales of suffering, discrimination and violence, as well as triumph and resilience, the diverse cast of OutSpoken explain how their identities shape all aspects of their lives, from family relationships and going out at night, to daily activities and professional life. Though they have diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, their personal accounts act as powerful reminders of the violence, discrimination and stigma many LGBTI people endure, as well as the importance of protecting LGBTI rights.

“Despite some positive steps, much remains to be done. Marginalization in the workplace, violence in the family, classroom bullying and exclusionary laws still persist and must end. Discrimination starts early and runs deep,” said Rosemary Kumwenda, HIV and Health Team Leader at UNDP’s Istanbul Regional Hub.

With OutSpoken, UNDP marks both the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign and International Human Rights Day. Through its powerful stories, the platform aims to address the violence and discrimination faced by LGBTI people and illuminate our shared humanity. The stories will go live on


Country profiles

Coinciding with the launch of OutSpoken, UNDP - with the support of USAID - has published country profiles documenting the lived realities and challenges facing LGBTI people in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

According to the four new country profiles, public attitudes are still mostly intolerant.  For example, in Albania 92 percent of survey respondents declared that they would not interact with LGBTI people.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 23.5 percent of the respondents stated that they had experienced violence based on their gender expression or sexual identity.  In Serbia, 70 percent of LGBTI people interviewed stated that they had been exposed to psychological violence and harassment.

The new country profiles call for immediately ending all violence and discriminatory practices against LGBTI people, institutionalizing legal recognition while repealing punitive laws, ensuring hate crimes are prosecuted, and multiplying the channels of advocacy to trigger profound changes in attitudes.  They offer state institutions, civil society and LGBTI advocates recommendations on how to further make progress in these areas.

The reports are available here:

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