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Making trade work for small producers in Southeast Asia’s least developed countries

Low-income economies depend greatly on agriculture, and growth in this sector delivers more poverty reduction than any other sectors. However, while tariffs have fallen, non-tariff barriers —sanitary and phytosanitary measures and lack of knowledge about destination markets — have become more significant barriers for export growth. Public policies can help overcome these entry barriers into global markets.

This project supports more than 120 small exporters from low-income Southeast Asian countries selling in niche markets, such as spices and organic products. The aim is to help them overcome entry barriers for their high-value goods by providing market research, business training, and advice. The project will examine the supply of these products as well as specific market entry strategies for each country to Canada. Canada’s Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) will plan a strategy to match export-ready producers in least developed countries with potential buyers in Canada, and provide active mentoring. At the same time, the Thailand-based Mekong Institute will work with women entrepreneurs and business development providers, providing training fellowships to increase their business prospects.

Both TFO and the Mekong Institute will evaluate their support, training, and mentoring to demonstrate effectiveness and propose replication of their interventions. They will look at how these activities generate business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises specialized in agro-foods through diversified and expanded export to the Canadian market (through TFO). They will also examine how these activities strengthen the entrepreneurial skills of small entrepreneurs, mostly female, to expand their businesses for export markets.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
30 months
IDRC Officer
Bouba Housseini
Total Funding
CA$ 708,181.00
Viet Nam
Employment and Growth
Employment and Growth
Institution Country
Project Leader
Madhurjya Dutta
Mekong Institute
Institution Country
Project Leader
Zaki Munshi
Trade Facilitation Office Canada