APEC Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Ministers have launched an action plan to enable Member Economies to review and improve their economic and policy environments for SMEs.
The 'Daegu Initiative on APEC Innovative Action Plan' was finalized during ministerial discussions that covered a range of areas including the role of women in small businesses and the importance of micro enterprises.
Held on September 1-2 in Daegu, Korea, the theme of the 12th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting was 'Promoting Innovation of SMEs.'
The action plan provides a guideline for Member Economies to take stock of modern challenges faced by SMEs and then implement policies to deal with these issues.
SME Ministerial Meeting Chair, Mr. Sung-jin KIM, said that as globalization brings about change, governments have a responsibility to help SMEs to take advantage of altered economic conditions.
"In the global age and with the march towards globalization, Member Economies must seek ways to help the smaller businesses to innovate and take advantage of new opportunities," Mr Kim said.
"Globalization means that a small business located on one side of the world can be adversely influenced by factors on the other side of the world. Business and government need to innovate so as to create a situation favorable to these smaller businesses dealing with the consequences of globalization."
The Daegu Initiative on APEC Innovative Action Plan emphasizes seven areas of SME related activity:
Developing human resources and technology through industry, educational and research institutions
Facilitating access to expert assistance and consulting services
Enhancing availability of capital to innovative SMEs
Networking and clustering for innovative SMEs
Establishing appropriate legal and regulatory structures
Establishing a market consistent economic environment
Developing methodologies for effectively measuring processes in the implementation of innovation programs for SMEs.
Mr Kim described SMEs as "the growth engine of our region" that he said accounts for over 93% of industrial output and employs more than 87% of the region's workforce.
Further details of other issues discussed at the SME ministerial meeting can be found in the Joint Ministerial Statement and the Chair's Summary at the concluding Press Conference.
The next APEC SME Ministerial Conference will be hosted by Viet Nam in 2006.