APEC Ministers will gather in St Petersburg, Russia on Friday to promote greater small and medium enterprise (SME) cooperation and supply-chain integration to boost innovative growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

The advancement of practical policies that can help to realize these objectives and deliver on APEC’s 2012 priorities to strengthen regional trade and investment and regional economic integration, supply-chains, innovation and food security will be the focus of concurrent meetings of APEC Ministers Responsible for SMEs and APEC Transportation Ministers on Friday.

APEC SME Ministers will explore ways to promote collaboration between the APEC SME Working Group and other APEC fora on cross-cutting issues to build on multi-year APEC capacity building programs to develop business ethics and improve disaster resilience for SMEs in the APEC region.

“We agree that advancing SME cooperation for innovative growth can be enhanced through promoting start-ups, considering it is the most important stage of entrepreneurship,” said Dr Robert Lai, Chair of the SME Working Group. “The development of start-ups in the APEC region facilitates job creation and increases international trade that benefits APEC member economies.”

The APEC Start-up Accelerator Initiative will be presented at the SME Ministerial Meeting to encourage further collaboration between member economies to support start-ups and young entrepreneurs in the APEC region.

“What they need, like every other company in the world, is an open and transparent business climate that facilitates the movement of goods and services across borders,” Lai said.

Efforts to foster greater SME-related trade and investment, entrepreneurship and products and services innovation are critical to enhancing regional economic growth—SMEs account for at least 90 percent of all business within APEC economies and employ nearly 60 percent of the region’s total workforce.

Separately, APEC Transport Ministers will pursue actions that can help to facilitate this process by improving regional connectivity through the leveraging of cutting-edge technologies.

“The establishment of more reliable and efficient supply-chains in the Asia-Pacific region is enabling deeper cross-border business activity and strengthening regional economic integration,” said Arlene Turner, APEC Transportation Working Group Lead Shepherd.

“APEC continues to boost transportation development through public-private sector collaboration and initiatives that, for example, promote the use of intelligent technologies to increase supply-chain productivity and spur more robust growth.”

Earlier this week, the APEC Transportation Working Group developed a number of recommendations for APEC Ministers to consider to support the implementation of the APEC Supply Chain Connectivity Action Plan. The goal is to achieve a ten percent increase in regional supply chain performance by 2015.

Innovative methods for ensuring the security and reliability of transportation and global supply-chains will also be the subject of particular attention.

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For more information, please contact David Hendrickson (in Russia) +65 9371 8901 at drh@apec.org or Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at mc@apec.org.

More details about APEC’s 2012 priorities and initiatives for the year can be found on www.apec.org or www.apec2012.ru.

Additional details about APEC meetings, events, projects and publications can be found at www.apec.org. You can also follow APEC on Twitter and join us on Facebook.