APEC aims to bolster SMEs’ participation in regional and global markets

MANILA, PIA-The First Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials’ Meeting and Related Meetings, held from January 26 to February 07 at the Clark and Subic Bay Freeport Zones, supported efforts to bolster Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) participation in regional and global markets under the APEC 2015 theme to build inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

This supports “Fostering SME’s participation in regional and global markets,” one of the priorities under this year’s overarching theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.”

“SMEs account for over 97 per cent of all businesses and half of employment in APEC economies – but less than 35 per cent of exports. That’s why it’s vital that we enhance SMEs’ competitiveness so they can expand into new markets” said Ambassador Laura Q. Del Rosario, Philippine Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs and 2015 Chair of the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting.

The Philippines’ proposal for an SME Action Plan would help SMEs improve their management capabilities, strengthen their access to financing, and foster a business environment that encourages SMEs to access overseas markets.    The target date for the completion of the SME Action Plan is by the 3rd Senior Officials Meeting in September this year.
“Greater SMEs’ participation in supply-chains leads to more jobs and increased exports.  Importantly, this will lead to ‘inclusive growth’, so that all parts and members of the economy can benefit,” explained Ambassador Del Rosario.

The proposed SME Action Plan complements APEC’s ongoing work on Supply Chain Connectivity, which aims to provide an enabling environment for business by improving logistics, transportation, cross-border transit and infrastructure.

APEC’s Economic and Technical Cooperation (ECOTECH) initiatives provide targeted capacity building to help APEC economies address weaknesses and chokepoints in the supply chain.

“ECOTECH initiatives that improve supply chain connectivity will make it easier for SMEs to get their good or service from their office or warehouse, to their overseas customer.  This means lower costs and higher efficiency – which allows SMEs to focus on expanding their business,” explained Ambassador Del Rosario.

SMEs participation in regional and global supply-chains will also improve under a Philippine-led initiative to help goods exporters’ access overseas markets more efficiently and securely.  APEC economies will be encouraged to improve their Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) systems.  AEO systems prevent goods in international transport to be tampered with and facilitate trade for low-risk operators.

“Strong AEO systems facilitate trust between trading partners which enhances supply chain connectivity,” said Ambassador Del Rosario.

“All these APEC initiatives will result in benefits for all SMEs, which comprise 97 per cent of businesses in the APEC region, and build more inclusive economies,” concluded Ambassador Del Rosario.