Ukraine: Helping firms harness opportunities for trade in challenging times
ITC webinar on digital platforms for Ukrainian firms provides access to strategic trade and market intelligence on opportunities across EU markets and beyond
Beyond the devastating human impact, the war with Russia has shrunk the Ukrainian economy by a third, leaving businesses with major challenges to stay open. Russia was among Ukraine’s top export destinations. Now export bans to Belarus and Russia, coupled with the limited domestic demand, are forcing Ukrainian firms to reconsider their options.
“The Ukrainian industry of textile products, clothing, shoes, and accessories continues to work, even in war conditions, although demand has changed. Domestic solvency has decreased, so new markets, including European ones, are a good alternative for business development,” said Iryna Naumenko, director of the analytics department of the Ukrlegprom Association, which represents leather and textile businesses.
For firms working in a disrupted domestic market, identifying and harnessing opportunities for business growth is essential. Yet, finding and evaluating new markets can be a challenge, particularly for smaller firms.
"Choosing and researching a foreign market is one of the first steps in the process of entering foreign markets. At the same time, a lack of knowledge about foreign markets remains one of the main barriers for Ukrainian companies in the development of export activities,” said Olya Gvozdyova, advisor at the Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office of Ukraine.
To help firms understand their options and consider possibilities in new markets, the International Trade Centre (ITC), in partnership with the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI), and the Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office (EEPO), are joining forces to organize virtual events to help firms explore new opportunities using a free digital platform available in Ukrainian.
On 22 February, 70 firms and business support organizations participated in an introductory webinar on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Trade Helpdesk . Using this platform, they can assess the economic attractiveness of EU and EaP markets, as well as understanding the tariffs and market access conditions in each of those markets.
“Unlike for large companies, where there is potential that can be exploited, SMEs lack resources, experience, and knowledge of international markets to diversify exports. The eap.tradehelpdesk.org platform presented by ITC and other digital ITC tools provide an affordable opportunity to analyze potential markets,” Naumenko said. For instance, over 75% of Ukraine’s paperboard exports were destined for Russia and Belarus in 2021. That’s no longer possible, but there are options for market diversification. According to ITC estimates, there will be $5.35 billion of export potential by 2027 across EU markets.
“ITC is committed to supporting Ukrainian business and working closely with Ukrainian business support organizations in the constantly evolving economic context,” said Senior Trade Information Officer Paul Kelly. This activity is the first in a series of trainings for firms to help them harness available trade and market information to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
This four-year programme funded by the European Union and launched in 2019, aims to foster economic growth through boosting trade within the Eastern Partnership as well as with EU markets. Implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the project has created an integrated digital trade platform available in Ukrainian and is also working to collect data on relevant regulations, services trade, as well as export-related procedures for key products.