Ministers from the 21 APEC member economies have convened in Lima to introduce measures for enabling small and medium enterprises to tap emerging cross-border trade opportunities in the Asia-Pacific.
Focus is on the establishment of policy conditions that support the transformation of small businesses, growth engine of the region’s economies, into modern operations equipped to more actively participate in international production and supply chains.
“Around 40 per cent of small and medium enterprises in the region are still isolated and many more are at risk of losing out on the benefits of increasing market integration,” explained Peru’s Second Vice President Mercedes Araoz, in opening remarks.
“Given that these businesses are out of the formal market, the possibilities for them to export their products and trade internationally are reduced and therefore the capacity for growth is greatly limited,” she continued.
Small and medium enterprises account for some 98 per cent of all businesses, 40 to 80 per cent of employment and up to 60 per cent of GDP across APEC member economies but a relatively low proportion of their exports.
“We are trying to raise the profile of small and medium enterprises in terms of their needs and potential,” said Peru’s Minister of Production Bruno Giuffra, who is Chair of the 2016 APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting.
“We are conscious of the challenges we must overcome to help our small businesses maximize the benefits of being part of an interconnected regional economy,” he noted.
Ministers are working to narrow gaps in the use of mobile technology and electronic commerce, access to financing, and education and training needed to cultivate entrepreneurship and improved management capacity.
Actions on the table further aim to mitigate the impact of rising protectionism that hinders small business internationalization and participation in trade. They also support the sector’s adoption of sustainable production to reduce carbon emissions and improve green growth.
“Modern small businesses will have to adapt to the growing demands of an interconnected world,” concluded Minister Giuffra. “Such a vision requires a high level of government commitment and private sector engagement to set the right policy framework and incentives, which APEC is well-suited to take forward.”
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