On 2 December 2020, the OECD organised an EU-supported webinar for the government of Mongolia to support the design of policies for SME recovery in Mongolia.
The event was an opportunity to discuss Mongolia’s ongoing reform efforts to support the growth of SMEs and share OECD countries’ experiences in developing policies to support SMEs during this challenging period. The webinar brought together senior policy-makers from Mongolia, the SME agency, experts from France and the OECD, and a number of stakeholders from the international development and diplomatic community. This event was part of the OECD policy component of the EU Central Asia Invest initiative.
Opening the session, Ms Vasha Oyu, Director of the Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,outlined the impact of the crisis on the country’s economy, and noted that the government moved quickly to put in place measures to support firms. Whilst some of the current confinement measures will stay in place for the time being, the government is aware of the importance of helping SMEs restart their work safely. Mr Erdensaikhan Yadamsuren, Head of the Mongolian SME Agency, noted that SMEs were particularly active in a number of highly vulnerable sectors and that there would be a major shock to the country’s labour market as a result. Mr H Bolorchuluun, Director of the Policy Planning Department at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, also underlined the challenges for SMEs and the support provided by the government during this period. Mr Marco Ferri, Deputy Head of Mission of the EU Delegation to Mongolia, outlined a range of EU-supported measures to help Mongolia and its SMEs, including with the EBRD.
The webinar then heard from Mr Stephan Raes from the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, who gave a detailed presentation on how OECD members had met the needs of their SMEs in light of the impact of COVID-19, ranging from financial measures to training and digitalisation support. Governments need to better target their interventions in tight fiscal conditions, focusing on firms which are at risk of collapse due to COVID, but which are otherwise entirely viable businesses.
Ms Amélie Schurich-Rey of the OECD Eurasia Division presented an overview of the policy measures undertaken by the government of Mongolia, and how these compared to those of its peers in Central Asia. Ms Baifalmaa Sanjjav, Principal Manager at the EBRD in Mongolia, presented a major new five-year initiative, Building Crisis-Resilient SMEs in Mongolia Post-COVID-19, as well as new data from an EBRD survey to gauge the impact of the crisis on SMEs.
Mr Vincent Di Betta, Head of International Expertise Activities of Bpifrance, the French public bank for SME development, and Ms Isabelle Lebo, its International Partnerships Manager, proceeded to present their practitioners’ perspective on supporting SMEs in time in crisis. They emphasised the importance of offering guaranteed loans to SMEs at a time where liquidity shortages were arising, with France having set aside some €300 billion.
Concluding the seminar, Mr Erdensaikhan called for additional support, and together with Mr Ferri, returned to a question raised earlier in the session on the topic of mainstreaming gender concerns into SME policy responses, and helping address gender earning gaps.