Hong Kong, China, 11 June 2010 - Making it easier for SMEs to hire workers is key to regional economic development. This was the rationale for the "Employing Workers Seminar" held by APEC's Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) in Hong Kong, China this week.
As SMEs are important drivers of regional growth, "There is a need to strike a balance between ensuring that SME employers are not overburdened by regulations, and ensuring that employees are protected", says Barry Jones, seminar organiser and Head of Division at Australia's Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
The event, targeted at the region's policy-makers, is the seventh in a series of capacity building seminars aimed at helping APEC economies improve their competitiveness based on the World Bank's 'Ease of Doing Business' indicators.
Peru was presented as a case study for other APEC members to consider as its ranking under the 'employing workers' indicator has climbed 49 places between 2009 and 2010.
In recent years Peru has undertaken labour reforms including modifying taxation and superannuation arrangements to reduce the cost of doing business and the cost and complexity of employing workers. Progress in these areas has in turn contributed to improvements in economic performance. Since 2007, Peru experienced an average growth rate of nine percent, the highest of any Latin American economy.
"To achieve such improvements, APEC economies need to learn from each other's experiences and to find out which approaches work and which don't, and to keep on striving towards best practice," says Jones. Jones believes APEC is particularly suited for this task because it provides the platform for a wide range of economies with different circumstances and stages of development to come together to share lessons learnt.
In APEC, SMEs account for around 90 percent of all business and employ as much as 60 percent of the region's work force. The SMEWG continues to encourage the development of SMEs and to build their capacity to engage in international trade.