Can an Export Promotion Council Become a Catalyst for the Economy?

Published on 22 Apr, 2021

An export promotion council (EPC) is established with the objective of boosting a country’s presence in foreign markets and consequently strengthening its economy. EPCs of some emerging countries are unable to meet these expectations due to various reasons. While there is no dearth of local wares that would find a foreign market, certain inefficiencies hold them back. Can EPCs across the globe play a pivotal role in enhancing a country’s exports?

EPCs are government agencies designated to help countries establish a strong export market. While countries such as the US and the UK have powerful EPCs, those in emerging countries are struggling with various obstacles, including:

  • Insufficient foreign market research that leads to the wrong target audience being invited to certain trade fairs and exhibitions, resulting in wastage of time, efforts, and investments
  • Exporters with diverse offerings being forced to sign up with multiples EPCs in some countries, thus increasing their costs
  • Strict eligibility criteria in certain countries for onboarding micro and small enterprises, thereby depriving them of government support to increase their market share
  • Low membership in some countries owing to enterprises being unaware of the existence of EPCs in their region or industry

EPCs primarily face financial hurdles, as they lack external funding. Due to this, they are unable to take up many initiatives that could help increase the presence of exporters. Their main source of income is membership fees. However, this can only support their administrative functioning and undertaking of small initiatives. While EPCs receive grants for exhibitions or trade fairs, they do not receive government support in many countries. Therefore, in small countries, export remains an area with abundant unexplored potential.

EPCs have the potential to become a catalyst to increase exports, but this prospect has not been explored yet. EPCs can contribute in the following ways:

  1. Industry research – EPCs can seek expert guidance for getting information on market dynamics and assisting in identifying opportunity areas for their members/commodities in question. Industry experts can share pertinent information on unexplored markets, which can help exporters tailor the products as per requirements. Furthermore, EPCs can avail the services of a research agency to understand the best technologies that can help their exporters and liaison with governments to procure these technologies for the exporter base. Information on various relevant trade exhibitions would also be of huge help to exporters.
  2. Understanding needs of members – EPCs can understand the needs and demands of their members by conducting satisfaction surveys. With the help of the scores from the surveys, EPCs can understand the services desired by exporters to help them increase their presence in foreign markets, and accordingly serve them better. Surveys can also help EPCs get an idea on the hurdles faced by exporters, along with areas where they need support.

EPCs can provide strong assistance to their members, and hence, they need to act proactively. EPCs cannot remain passive, especially in developing countries. Instead, they must actively participate in helping members understand foreign markets, find new opportunities, and help them diversify their offerings. Through the initiatives detailed above, EPCs can become catalysts for economies to grow and expand their export base.