Countries / Territories

Ready4Trade- Central Asia

  • About the Ready4Trade - Central Asia

    With the project 'Ready4Trade Central Asia', the European Union (EU) and ITC are joining forces to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of the region by boosting intra-regional and international trade in Central Asia. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular women led enterprises, and Business Support Organizations (BSOs).

    The project operates in five countries in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is funded by the EU and is implemented by ITC. Country project offices coordinate activities at the country level.


    Despite some economic growth in recent years, Central Asian countries remain characterized by a low level of economic diversification and a high dependence on a small number of trading partners. The contribution of SMEs to GDP and employment in Central Asia, as well as their participation in the world economy, remains low.

    Increasing access of SMEs to regional and global markets is therefore crucial for diversifying economic activity and creating jobs, and this is where Ready4Trade can help.

    To reach its overarching goal, Ready4Trade will focus on 2 key areas: trade facilitation and e-commerce.

    Ready4Trade started in January 2020 with a 6-month inception phase and will last until December 2023.

    Ready4Trade's priorities

    To help spur economic growth, the Ready4Trade Central Asia project will target these 4 main objectives:

    • Address regulatory and procedural obstacles to international trade;
    • Improve SMEs capacities to comply with cross-border requirements;
    • Improve readiness of Central Asian countries, in particular women-led companies, to conduct cross-border e-commerce;
    • Increase opportunities for women-led enterprises to participate in international trade

    Ready4Trade's approach

    • Customize its approach to fit each beneficiary country's specific needs.
    • Work through an inclusive approach: in particular, by supporting women's economic empowerment.
    • Ensure the sustainability of its results beyond its timeframe by securing a domino effect of its capacity-building activities.
    • Foster synergies among all relevant stakeholders, including beneficiaries from the private and public sector, as well as   other developments agencies.

    Ready4Trade at a glance

    Ready4Trade at a glance1

    Ready4Trade and COVID 19

    Ready4Trade and COVID 19Given the significant disruption of international trade caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the introduction of trade facilitation measures and the promotion of e-commerce activities are more critical than ever to help mitigate the negative impacts brought on by the pandemic on SMEs. Through its various activities in these areas, Ready4Trade can contribute to alleviating some of these drastic economic consequences.

    How does Ready4Trade work to reach its objectives?


    • By establishing national Trade Facilitation (TF) Portals to improve SME competitiveness & compliance with cross-border trade requirements:

    In order to ensure each beneficiary country's compliance with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, enhance the transparency and predictability of cross-border trade formalities and identify potential areas for the simplification of procedures, Ready4Trade will :

    • Create, launch and promote TF online platforms
    • Train local stakeholders to run the portal in a sustainable manner
    • Map the formalities for a minimum of 20 import & export flows
    • By addressing existing obstacles to trade on selected intra- and extra-regional trade flows:

    To remove obstacles on both sides of the borders for an increased intra-regional and extra-regional trade, Ready4Trade will :

    • Identify the most stringent barriers to trade and pinpoint their root causes
    • Draft relevant reforms to address these barriers with the support of both the public and private sectors
    • Support the implementation of reforms in compliance with existing regional and international agreements
    • By building SMEs' capacity to comply with cross-border requirements:

    To enable more SMEs to participate in regional and international value chains and generate new export flows, Ready4Trade will:

    • Develop a cross-border management curriculum tailored to Central Asian business needs comprising 20 modules.
    • Support local institutions deliver the curriculum through e-learning and instructor-led workshops
    • Provide on-the-job coaching at the premises of selected SMEs in partnership with local institutions in each beneficiary country
    • By enhancing women's participation in international trade:

    To raise awareness of border officials on gender-specific challenges and boost women entrepreneurs' confidence and their capacity to engage in international trade, Ready4Trade will:

    • Conduct research and develop technical reports on the specific challenges that women entrepreneurs face and gather data on gender issues, including on border officials gender perception
    • Develop training addressing gender and trade issues for border officials, statistics agencies and women entrepreneurs
    • By supporting SMEs engage in e-commerce and policymakers strengthen the e-commerce framework:

    To enable beneficiary countries to develop a strategic vision and strengthen the e-commerce competitiveness of SMEs, Ready4Trade will:

    • Conduct e-commerce strategies in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
    • Assist in the development of an e-commerce regulatory framework in Kazakhstan

    To raise SMEs' capacity to trade digitally, both intra-regionally and internationally, Ready4Trade will:

    • Assist 200+ Central Asian businesses sell through online channels by providing individual coaching, conducting customized research for SMEs and working with private sector partners to offer technical help.
    • Improve understanding of national Business Support Organizations of the needs of SMEs on their e-commerce journey 

    Impact on UN Sustainable Development Goals:

    Direct impact on:

    SDG 8 (Decent work and  

    economic growth)


     About the Ready4trade - Central Asia Project2


    Indirect impact on:

    SDG 5 (Gender equality) &

    SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals)


    About the Ready4trade - Central Asia Project3

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    Russian version

    Ready4Trade brochure Russian


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