APEC Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Ministers have committed to enhance regional support to advance the business environment of Micro-enterprises. The Joint Ministerial Statement is now available online. At the 11th APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Ministerial Meeting in Santiago, Chile, on October 6-7, Ministers also endorsed the Santiago Agenda on Entrepreneurship that is aimed at preventing market failures and removing barriers to SME growth.
This year's SME Ministers' Meeting also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the role of micro-enterprises in the APEC region.
Ministers acknowledged that while Micro-enterprises are often run by sole traders and rarely employ more than one or two workers, these businesses make a sizeable contribution to the regional economic output.
To further encourage Micro-enterprise development Ministers have highlighted the importance of ensuring a sound regulatory environment for Micro-enterprises. They also called on economies to share information and to contribute to an inventory of best practices relating to Micro-enterprise development.
Ministers instructed the APEC Micro-enterprise Sub Group to open a dialogue with regional International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to advance joint initiatives to specifically benefit Micro-enterprises. The first dialogue has been scheduled for 2005 in Korea.
To strengthen this interaction with IFIs in support of Micro-enterprise development, Viet Nam has agreed to undertake a project to better quantify the contributions of IFIs and other international organizations in building the capacity of the ME sector.
The endorsement of the Santiago Agenda on Entrepreneurship is a major outcome from the Ministers' Meeting. The Agenda recognizes specific factors that allow SMEs to flourish including a legal and policy environment conducive to SME development, and the removal of barriers that impede SME growth.
Among the factors cited by ministers as essential to facilitating a stable and healthy SME business environment are stable macro and microeconomic policies that are business-friendly, legal and governance systems that uphold the rule of law, and a regulatory framework that is facilitative of sustainable business growth.
Another issue before the Ministerial Meeting was the call for greater emphasis on expanding trade through the use of English and other common language to better deal with the effects of globalization. Ministers requested that officials cooperate with the APEC Education Network to identify actions for the development of a Strategic Plan for English and other Languages in the APEC Region.
The next SME Ministerial Meeting is scheduled to take place in Daegu, Korea, on September 2-3, 2005, with the theme of "Promoting Innovation of SMEs." The theme recognizes the relevance of innovation in the SME sector for responding to a fast changing international business environment.