The APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) meeting concluded in Ha Noi this afternoon following two days of meetings that reviewed progress over the past year.
The meeting also finalized preparations for the 13th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting that will take place tomorrow and Friday. This included discussing inputs to the 'Hanoi Declaration on SME Competitiveness for Trade and Investment' that will be finalized and released by ministers following their meeting.
Chair of the SMEWG Meeting and Deputy Director General of the Viet Nam Agency for SME Development, Mr. Bui Liem, reported to the meeting on progress made in the SMEWG 2006 Work Plan since the last meeting that included a number of new projects.
"The APEC SMEWG has made progress over the last year in increasing the capacity of small business and enhancing their contribution to our regional community," he said.
"Projects have included an 'APEC Local Cultural Industries Virtual Exposition' that placed special attention on the importance to assist SMEs and micro-enterprises that have high export potential but lack a channel to conduct export.
"An 'APEC Local Cultural Industry Market Development Forum' was an initiative hosted by Chinese Taipei this year. The forum focused on adopting e-commerce technologies to promote international trade and enhance the capability of SMEs and micro-enterprises on exploring new business opportunities in overseas markets.
"The United States also led an initiative to improve understanding and awareness of the hidden wealth contained in SME intellectual property rights."
Delegates were also briefed on the success of the APEC SME Seminar on Support for Local and Cottage Industries and the APEC "One Village One Product" Seminar that were held on 22-23 September, in Ha Noi. At these seminars members were able to discuss shared experiences and measures to improve the needs of SMEs to enhance competitiveness and to strengthen partnerships with the Private Sector.
The meeting also reviewed the implementation of the Daegu Initiative on SME Innovation Action Plan that was launched at the last SME Ministerial Meeting in Korea in September 2005. Implementation of the initiative has included a number of research and skills building projects around the region. These include a comparison study of APEC SME innovation policies and a Study on the economic impact of innovative SME promotion strategies. Details on the Daegu Initiative are available at www.apec-smeic.org
The 13th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting will bring together ministers and their delegates from APEC's 21 Member Economies to discuss issues of consequence to small businesses across the APEC Region.
Ministers will hold a News Conference after they deliver the 'Hanoi Declaration on SME Competitiveness for Trade and Investment' at the conclusion of the meeting.