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Going for Growth


The number and complexity of customs procedures can also add quickly to scale-up costs and sometimes impose a binding constraint to accessing international markets or to meeting the scale and complexity of international orders. Research suggests that more efficient processes, along with increased transparency to reduce the opportunities for corruption, could significantly reduce trade costs in the region (Abe and Wilson 2008). Although importing and exporting costs and tariff levels are generally low for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, the average number of documents and days required is well above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average. It takes an average of 12 days and 6 documents to import into OECD countries. The average across ASEAN countries is 32 days and 11 documents (Shepherd and Wilson 2008). Country-level research and case studies of individual female entrepreneurs in the region confirm the serious burden that customs procedures impose, particularly on small export-oriented businesses. For example, in Cambodia, the lack of standardized procedures for air freight (used by the handicraft industry) as well as the number and costs of export procedures are cited as key constraints in a case study of a female entrepreneur (see box 4.2) (World Bank 2010). Similar concerns are raised in a case study of

Box 4.2

Case Study Excerpt Cambodia: Sokorn Chom and Sotheary San Members, Cambodian Craft Cooperation (CCC) Historically, silk has held a significant place in Cambodian life and culture; in the 7th century, Cambodia was a busy trading stop on the famous Silk Road linking China to Europe. Sokorn Chom and Sotheary San come from an area of Cambodia renowned for its silk weavers. In the past, they used to supplement their farming incomes by weaving during the dry season. However, seasonal price fluctuations and the strong bargaining power of middlemen meant that their ability to generate income was limited and unpredictable. In 1997, Sotheary and Sokorn were able to gain power in numbers by joining the Cambodian Craft Cooperation (CCC), a Khmer nongovernmental organization (NGO). With the assistance of the International Trade Centre, the CCC has enabled (continued)

Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region  
Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region  

The East Asia and Pacific region has made great progress, relative to other regions, with regard to both economic development and, specifica...