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APEC business advisory council recognises role of SME's
Aug '08
In the era of globalization, says the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), small businesses matter.

Coming together for the first time since the collapse of WTO Doha Round negotiations, an elite group of some of the most influential business minds from throughout the Asia-Pacific are emphatic about the importance of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to future economic stability.

ABAC, whose members are elected by leaders of their respective economies, reasons that SMEs account for over 90 percent of all businesses in the APEC region and employ approximately 80 percent of all workers.

As globalization and regional integration enables more and more people to participate in the international market place, the influence of SMEs will increase exponentially.

Beyond wealth generation and distribution, this extends to things like technological advancement and social development.

Creating a healthy economic environment will depend on the ability of policy makers to make adequate provisions for the growth of SMEs.

Declares ABAC Chair, Juan Francisco Raffo, "If we want to improve the situation of the majority, we have to make SMEs competitive. We have to bring SMEs into APEC processes."

To this end, the group calls upon APEC to implement three special support programs for SMEs in member economies:

A Technological Infrastructure Programme should ensure the provision of information communication technology (ICT) services and infrastructure that are relevant to SMEs by 2020.

This would include targeted financial support for the acquisition of resources and skills; A financing capacity building programme should establish micro credit and loan systems with sound legal frameworks; venture investment funds and governmental financing institutions for SMEs; and SME Training Programmes should be established.

This comes at the end of a two day SME Summit, hosted in partnership with the Alibaba Group and featuring a diverse cross-section of the business community from actor and martial artist Jet Li to Massayoshi Son, founder and CEO of Soft Bank.

Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, who participated by video conference drew attention to the positive effects of micro-credit, particularly on women and other disadvantaged groups.

"Poverty is not created by the poor. It is created by institutions. If you are looking for market solutions, you have first to redesign the market."

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

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