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PublicationPromoting E-Commerce in Georgia: Exploring Constraints to Online Participation using Baseline Data from an Experimental Study(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-07-24) Apedo-Amah, Marie Christine; Coville, Aidan; Piza, Caio; Raja, Siddhartha; Scarpari, RaquelE-commerce has the potential to expand market opportunities for businesses. However, it is not guaranteed. The World Development Report on Digital Dividends (World Bank 2016) highlights the importance of complementary analog support that may be needed to ensure people and businesses are able to fully benefit from the opportunities that high-speed, ubiquitous internet can provide. The first step in providing such support is understanding the constraints to adoption. The Competitive Policy Evaluation Lab (ComPEL) is supporting an impact evaluation in Georgia to generate knowledge about the constraints that prevent firms from participating in e-commerce platforms, while also testing an innovative approach to address the identified issues. The study evaluates the ‘Broadband for Development’ (BfD) project, a component of the World Bank-supported Georgia National Innovation Ecosystem (GeNIE) program, that aims to foster innovation, particularly for otherwise marginalized firms. The BfD provides support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) located outside of the capital, Tblisi, to adopt broadband connections and establish an online retail presence through e-commerce training. Before BfD launched this effort, the research team collected and analyzed baseline data regarding 2,180 eligible firms. The purpose of this note is to explore the baseline results and some implications for BfD, or similar projects supported by the World Bank’s Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation (FCI) Global Practice, within the context of the impact evaluation. PublicationAlbania: Trade Impact of CEFTA(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-12) World Bank GroupRegional free trade agreements (FTAs) have a sizable effect on exports and foster economic growth. While reducing tariffs in member countries, regional FTAs harmonize trade policy across regions and reduce regulation uncertainty for exporters. They are particularly important for supporting trade in isolated countries such as Albania, a transition economy in the Western Balkans. This policy note looks at the impact of membership in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) on Albania's export growth. It finds that Albanian exports to CEFTA members have grown much faster than its exports to other countries. A large share of this growth is contributed by firms that did not export to CEFTA countries previously and via new exports that were among the least traded to CEFTA countries. We also measure the impact of CEFTA on Albanian exports using a gravity equation, which finds that CEFTA increased Albanian exports to member countries between 34 percent and 144 percent. PublicationCompetitive Fruit and Vegetable Products in Albania(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-12) World Bank GroupAlbania is heavily dependent on its agricultural sector, which accounts for 20.3 percent of GDP, 49 percent of employment and 8.5 percent of total exports. The fruit and vegetable sector represents 20 percent of Albanian agriculture but contributes 36 percent of its exports and this share is expected to increase. The note posits an idea that as the domestic market for many of these products is saturated, Albanian fruits and vegetables have been gaining ground in the Western Balkans and are well positioned to make headway in the EU-28 market as well. However, Albanian producers face many constraints in meeting the rigid and complex demands of the EU market, constraints that an export strategy focused solely on identifying products for export is unlikely to change. The policy paradigm has shifted to approaches that focus on integrating local industries into global value chains that help facilitate technology transfer and create jobs. PublicationAzerbaijan: Leveraging Postal Network for Financial and Social Inclusion(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04) Prigozhina, Angela; Boon, JohannesThis paper provides a brief overview of the postal network reform in Azerbaijan and transformation of Azerpost, Azerbaijan’s state postal operator, into an efficient platform for basic financial services delivery throughout the country. This complex reform, supported by the World Bank loan for Financial Services Development Project and the grants from the Swiss Office of International Cooperation (SECO), was launched in 2006 and helped the government of Azerbaijan to improve financial services delivery and inclusion in the country in parallel with modernizing and digitalizing Azerpost, expanding its financial services delivery capacity, enhancing its financial viability and maximizing the public value of Azerpost extensive branch network of 1,600 offices. In the period of 2007-1H2015, Azerpost total revenues, largely from financial services (as universal postal services remain loss-making) tripled, while volume of financial services’ sales increased four times. In 2015, Azerpost reached financial breakeven without state subsidy, and productivity of its staff increased 3 times. In 2009, Azerpost corporatized and became LLC, while in 2010, based on the new postal legislation, it was licensed as a non-bank financial institution subject to prudential supervision of the central bank.