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Sustainable export promotion
– by Frank Maul
Visiting a banana plantation in Peru during a sourcing mission.
Colombian highlands tea, Indonesian coco-flower sugar, sustainable tropical wood from Peru, walnuts from Kyrgyzstan, and cut flowers from Ethiopia – Germany’s Import Promotion Desk (IPD) brings high-quality products from developing countries and emerging markets to the European market. The IPD is an initiative of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) in cooperation with the non-profit company sequa, shareholders of which include business associations and the GIZ. The IPD is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is currently supporting exporters in eight partner countries: Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Peru and Tunisia.
IPD marketing experts help foreign partners to draft appropriate strategies. The IPD provides market surveys and sector-specific information. It runs workshops and training seminars on export-related issues. Important aspects include reliable supply, consistent product quality, exact pricing and the transparent communication of delays or bottlenecks. The IPD, moreover, organises study tours to Germany, so export managers from partner countries can gather first hand insights by visiting trade fairs and private-sector companies.
For many exporters from developing countries, the most important challenges are the insufficient knowledge of European import regulations and the lack of necessary certifications. To improve matters, the IPD hosts workshops and seminars on legal requirements and quality standards of timber products, for example. In the partner countries, the IPD cooperates with suppliers, business associations and export promoting agencies in order to raise awareness of market opportunities in the EU.
An important precondition for marketing fruits and vegetables to the EU is the GLOBAL G.A.P. certification. This certification confirms safe and sustainable production. The IPD helps companies to improve their quality management which is an important step for becoming certified.
The IPD also lends support to German importers that are looking for new products or suppliers. IPD organises sourcing missions to find competent exporters, diligently assessing their product quality, production capacities, certifications and compliance with international standards. The IPD also does comprehensive matchmaking at trade fairs and buying missions.
With IPD support, private-sector companies in partner countries can boost their competitiveness. The IPD promotes sustainable approaches to business and ensures developing countries become better integrated into international trade. When product quality improves, commodities are processed domestically, and goods are exported directly without middlemen, new job opportunities and additional income are generated. Moreover, partner countries’ share in added value increases.
The IPD focuses on goods that are in demand in Europe such as exotic fruit and organic products, and strictly excludes basic foodstuff and consumer goods that people in developing country depend on.