Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) can generate substantial rewards if they work together in industrial clusters according to the outcomes of an APEC Seminar in Taipei this week.
The "APEC Symposium on Industrial Clustering for SMEs" has released a set of guidelines for use by business operators, governments and trade organizations that are intended to stimulate increased interaction among local businesses.
The "APEC Best Practices Guidelines on Industrial Clustering for SMEs" highlights the potential for SMEs to make better use of their geographic location to expand trading opportunities for local businesses in their industry.
The guidelines outline operational areas such as the sharing of new technologies, human resource development and utilizing collective local strengths in order to develop overseas markets.
In his address to the symposium the Director General of the SME Administration in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taipei, Sun-Quae Lai, praised Industrial Clustering as a central part of regional economic growth.
"Industrial clustering is considered the main drive for innovation and economic growth in the new economic era," Mr. Lai said touching on one of the symposium?s central themes.
"I believe that even micro-enterprises can be innovative as long as they can grow in a suitable environment."
Developing this environment involves sharing information and practices to develop collective local strength in a changing global economy. The guidelines note that "the ability to innovate under globalization is the key to the competitiveness of an economy."
A reliance on local human resources and skills is highlighted in the guidelines as important for SME development.
"Human resources are an indispensable ingredient in the formation of an industrial cluster," the guidelines state.
"Although part of human resources can be obtained from abroad, the availability of locally-sourced human resources is crucial to the operations of a cluster."
The guidelines also note that the development of clusters will be particularly beneficial if markets for local SME products can be identified in other regional areas.
"For most developing countries, the major growing markets are often in developed countries, and therefore the ability to export to these markets is critical to the success of an industrial cluster.
"Domestic firms have to be a part of the export drive, making their own linkage to the major markets."
The Symposium took place on March 8-9 in the Taipei International Convention Center.
The APEC Best Practices Guidelines on Industrial Clustering for SMEs is available from the APEC Website.