APEC members are jointly working to improve business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) whose success is essential to ensuring the region’s economic health and stability.
Policymakers and business representatives gathered at a recent APEC SME meeting in Brunei Darussalam to drive forward next generation action plans designed to nurture the sector and the entrepreneurship and new ideas that drive it, even amid periods of global uncertainty.
“SMEs are an emerging force of productivity and business innovation in the APEC region,” noted Dr. Robert Lai, APEC SME Working Group Chair. “Given the current economic climate, it is more important than ever that these businesses are afforded an environment that enables them to thrive.”
“APEC member efforts to promote smart growth models, focusing on innovation, and enhanced supply chain connectivity are among APEC’s 2012 priorities and in the case of SMEs, play an outsized role in buoying the region’s economies,” he said.
SMEs account for more than 90 percent of all enterprises in each of APEC’s 21 member economies and in the majority of cases employ over half of their workforce, according to an APEC Policy Support Unit report.
Delegates shared best practice experiences and, in particular, emphasized business continuity plan development which they agreed is essential to securing SME operations and a more integrated and effective position in global production chains.
Industry-specific companion measures also topped the agenda, including voluntary codes of business ethics for the medical device sector and a ‘green’ workshop to encourage sustainable, environmentally-responsible business initiatives.
APEC members further pledged to take on-going steps to lift SME management capabilities, financing access and business-friendly market policies, and expressed their commitment to improving SME cooperation.
A 2013-2016 SME strategic plan was drafted during the proceedings reflecting APEC’s evolving policy direction toward SMEs and more effectively coordinating work between member economies on this front.
The meeting’s findings will be reported to the 19th SME Ministerial Meeting on 1-2 August 2012 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
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