Owning a successful business should be possible for everyone, say Ministers at the close of the 15th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (28 - 29 August). In fact, they have agreed to encourage it.
In the APEC region, small and medium enterprises account for over 90 percent of all businesses. Yet, they account for only 30 - 35 percent of exports. This suggests that a potential source of foreign revenue is being overlooked and that APEC economies could fare significantly better.
The fact has been revisited throughout the year and is now formally recognised by Ministers, who adopted the Chiclayo Joint Ministerial Statement on Sustainable Local Development to Foster SME Growth today.
The statement articulates their intent to promote policy, business and regulatory environments that foster the establishment and growth of small and medium enterprises.
"This is as much a social issue as it is an economic one," explains the group chair and Peruvian Minister of Production, Rafael Rey. "Sixty percent of the Asian-Pacific workforce is employed by small or medium businesses. Helping those businesses to compete in a global market place will transform lives in a visible way."
To this end, Ministers have discussed policies to support SME development and reduce poverty within local communities.
Ministers will present the statement to APEC Economic Leaders in November.
APEC Ministers also endorsed a new four-year plan (SME Working Group Strategic Plan 2009 - 2012). Priority areas include the business environment and innovation and are intended as vehicles to achieve sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. The plan also supports the inclusion of "Youth, Women and Minorities" as a cross-cutting concern.
It has been requested that the working group should report on the progress of its implementation of the strategic plan at their next meeting in October 2009. In addition, key performance indicators are to be established before that time.
Corporate Social Responsibility has been a priority to APEC 2008 Peru. Issues to be addressed by President Garcia in conversations with Leaders' in November include; good practices on corporate citizenship in the region; the promotion of a more human face in the context of globalization; and the improvement of public policies in APEC economies.