APEC member countries share insights at SME working group meeting

The 53rd APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group Meeting (SMEWG) was recently convened, giving APEC member economies the opportunity to exchange information, and share best practices and policies that support the growth and development of MSMEs in the Asia Pacific region. 

The virtual meeting which was hosted by Chile continued to focus on the various projects and initiatives implemented under the five priorities of the SMEWG Strategic Plan 2021-2024, namely: i) Entrepreneurship, innovation, and start-ups; ii) Access to international markets and global value chains; iii) Inclusive capability development towards digitalisation; iv) Access to finance and alternative financial solutions; and v) Government to business interactions. 

The SMEWG Strategic Plan acts as a guide to address critical issues pertaining to the growth of MSMEs in the APEC region. 

The meeting was chaired by Head of Business Development and Support of Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) Norlela Suhailee and attended by representatives from MSME-related agencies in APEC economies. 

In his welcoming remarks, Head of SME Division of the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism of Chile Manuel L√≥pez, shared that the pandemic comes with lessons and opportunities in the form of consumption patterns, interactions between individuals and organisations as well as accelerated digital transformation. 

However, he stressed that the mere existence of technology or access to financing does not guarantee the correct implementation of strategies that allow companies to improve their productivity and competitiveness.

In this regard, it is essential to develop a joint vision, which allows SMEs and entrepreneurs to push forward their production possibilities in the right direction, and APEC provides the opportunity to do so on a global scale. 

Meanwhile, current Chair of the APEC SMEWG Norlela Suhailee, in her opening remarks highlighted the importance of policies and cooperation to enhance MSME growth and resilience which SMEWG has continued to deliver by bringing together policymakers to share best practices and creative policies. 

She also stated that multiple projects have also been proposed and implemented at SMEWG level in its drive to promote digitalization, innovation and technology adoption to build MSME resilience. 

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, she emphasised the criticality of creating an inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic recovery for MSMEs to thrive and succeed. 

The meeting was also participated by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) where they presented the ABAC MSME & Inclusiveness Working Group Report highlighting the work plan for 2022 based on the four (4) priority areas namely: (i) promoting digital transformation; (ii) enhancing sustainable practices; (iii) building the digital market infrastructure for MSME supply chain finance; and (iv) fostering greater economic inclusion. 

The SMEWG is the champion within APEC for the inclusive development of sustainable, resilient and innovative SMEs and serves as the main fora where APEC economies exchange information, views, best practices and analysis concerning SMEs in the APEC region.

In attendance at the session was Director of Industry and Business Ecosystem Division, Ministry of Finance and Economy Allen On as Head of Delegation for Brunei Darussalam to the meeting and officers from the Ministry and Darussalam Enterprise.

This article was first published on 14 May 2022 in our Weekly Epaper issue 193 | More stories here


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