The 36th Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) Meeting was held in Makati City, the Philippines, on 13-14 March 2013. The SMEWG members shared their activities in relation to the endorsed three priorities of this year: (i) Building Management Capability, Entrepreneurship and Innovation; (ii) Finance; (iii) Business Environment, Market Access and Internationalization.
Priority Area 1: Building Management Capability, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation
Chinese Taipei introduced the APEC Startup Accelerator Leadership Summit to be held on 13-14 August 2013 in Taipei. The inaugural APEC Startup Accelerator (ASA) Leadership Summit will be a two-day forum. For two days, 30 top startups and 200 high profile executives, ABAC members, VCs and angel investors from the APEC region will be invited to challenge current assumptions regarding how public and private sectors collaborate to build sustainable startup ecosystems in the APEC region and to recognize how startups can more effectively find new markets, customers, business models, revenues, and profits.
Australia discussed the need for capacity building for SMEs in the Australian economy. The Plan for Australian Jobs focuses on assisting the Australian industry increase exports, and helping small and medium businesses grow.
Thailand presented on the National Science and Technology Development Agency’s Business Incubation Centre, an initiative designed to promote investment of technology-related start-ups, as well as to provide other support such as office space and business consultation.
Hong Kong, China shared its experience in supporting start-ups and entrepreneurship by outlining the key features and benefits of various programs designed and implemented.
Priority Area 2: Financing
The Philippines presented on the Small Business Corporation’s Risk-Based SME Lending initiative. The initiative uses a credit risk measurement approach to determine whether SMEs can obtain loans, with the goals of providing affordable, timely and accessible credit to qualified SMEs. Results of this risk-based lending initiative have so far been very positive.
Indonesia presented on the Perkassa Program, an Indonesian government micro-financing program started in 2007. It is designed to alleviate poverty and provide access to SME financing by strengthening women’s cooperatives through a shared capital revolving fund. The government funds the program, but uses banks as a conduit. The program targets women’s cooperatives in agriculture, agro-industry, manufacturing, trade and services.
Priority Area 3: Business Environment, Market Access and Internationalization
The United States presented a report on how SMEs can take advantage of affordable technology, allowing them to internationalize more cheaply. The presentation focused on the importance of enabling cross-border data flows for APEC SMEs to take advantage of cloud computing.
Australia reported on the new Food Industry Innovation Precinct. The Australian food industry is predominantly comprised of SMEs and the Precinct is designed to bring together industry, universities, researchers and government. The aim is to encourage the industry to become more commercially targeted and sustainable, accelerate the growth of businesses in the sector, take advantage of growing Asian markets, and increase the use of R&D.
Singapore shared two initiatives for fostering industry-wide collaboration, as encouraged by the 2012 Leaders’ Declaration: 1) Collaborative Industry Projects (CIP) and 2) Partnerships for Capability Transformation (PACT). CIP supports consortia collaboration to develop scalable solutions with potential for mass adoption by industries. The PACT scheme encourages partnerships between global manufacturers and SMEs to facilitate knowledge transfer, innovation and productivity enhancements within supply chains.
Preparation for upcoming SME Ministerial Meeting
Indonesia presented a proposed work plan derived from Leaders’ and Ministers’ directions. There were 12 proposed activities to be carried out by SMEWG. Member economies were invited to execute the proposed activities based on five possibilities including: continuing projects, expertise of member economies, self-funding, voluntary-basis, and work evenly-distributed among member economies.
Other ongoing work:
The Chair introduced the revised SME Monitoring Index. It was agreed that the survey would be conducted every two years and Thailand would develop a template by the end of March. The figures for each economy were requested by the end of June. The index would serve to identify weaknesses in APEC SMEs as well as to refine projects.
The Group agreed to focus on three more emerging issues this year: Global Supply Chain Connectivity; Venture Capital; and Women’s entrepreneurship and will work closely with CTI and other APEC groups to address these issues.
The 37th APEC SMEWG Meeting will be held on 4-5 Sep 2013 in Bali, Indonesia.
The 20th APEC SMEMM meeting and the SME-Women Minister Meeting will be held on 7 Sep 2013 in Bali, Indonesia.
An Integrated Plan of Action for SME Development (SPAN) was developed and endorsed by APEC SME ministers in 1998. The SPAN serves as a set of broad guidelines for SME development in individual economies. It also provides a reference point for review of both individual and collaborative initiatives, programs and regulatory frameworks.
To help SMEs embrace the culture of innovation and maximize the benefits of technology, the Daegu Initiative was launched in 2005. The initiative is intended as a long-term measure which runs in five year cycles with the objective of improving the economic and policy environments of all member economies to make them more conducive for SME innovation.
Six areas were identified in the first cycle between 2006 and 2010:
- Developing human resources and technology through linkages between industry and educational and research institutions;
- Accessing to specialist assistance and advice;
- Enhancing availability of capital to innovative SMEs;
- Networking and clustering for innovative SMEs;
- Establishing appropriate legal and regulatory structures; and
- Establishing a market consistent economic environment.
Under this initiative, an APEC SME Innovation Centre has been established in Korea to offer consulting services to small businesses and provide opportunities for economies to share innovation policy experiences.
The Green Initiative is the second cycle of the Daegu Initiative. As part of this initiative, the APEC SME Green Innovation Conference was held in April 2011 in Seoul, Korea that brought together government officials from SME-related and energy ministries and business representatives from innovative SMEs to share ideas and forge greater cooperation.
The Private Sector Development Agenda was launched in 2007 to help APEC economies create an enabling environment for small business by using the World Bank’s Ease Doing Business indicators. The 2007-2010 work plan to further this agenda include surveys and symposiums on:
- 2007: Establishing a business (Australia)
- 2008: Obtaining licenses (Peru)
- 2009: Access to capital (Singapore)
- 2010: Getting Credit (Japan).
In May 2011, the 18th Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM) was held in Big Sky, Montana, the United States, under the theme “Leveraging Partnerships with APEC Small Businesses to Foster Innovation and Create an Entrepreneurial Society”. The first Joint Ministers Responsible for Trade and SME Ministers Meeting was also held in Big Sky, Montana on May 20th, 2011 and expressed the need for similar collaboration in the future. In November 2011, at the Leaders’ Summit in Honolulu, APEC Ministers endorsed a set of 3 Codes of Business Ethics for the Medical Device Sector (Kuala Lumpur Principles), the Biopharmaceutical Sector (Mexico City Principles) and the Construction and Engineering Sector (Hanoi Principles).
In August 2012, the 19th Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM) was held in Saint Petersburg, Russia under the theme “Promoting SME Cooperation for Innovative Growth in the APEC Region.” At the meeting, Ministers:
- Reaffirmed the importance of addressing trade and investment barriers and improving the business environment for SMEs, including youth, women entrepreneurs, and MEs in the APEC region, and endorsed the results and efforts made by the SMEWG on financing, open and transparent business environment and high transportation and related costs, recognizing the importance of addressing trade barriers identified in Big Sky, Montana at the 18th Ministerial Meeting;
- Agreed that corruption imposes a significant market access barrier and high costs for SMEs. To address this challenge, they endorsed principles for voluntary codes of business ethics for the medical device, biopharmaceutical, and construction/engineering sectors. They recognized the importance of working to raise awareness of these principles and welcomed progress in implementing these principles, through the development of codes of ethics by industry associations and companies and capacity building efforts;
- Agreed that effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and simultaneous reduction of trade and investment barriers in this field are among the key issues for further SMEs development in the APEC region. They welcomed Russia’s proposal to organize a joint meeting of IPEG and SMEWG so as to facilitate further collaboration between the fora and to work further on the cross-cutting issues, including the formation of an accessible system of receipt of protection documents for the intellectual property items for SMEs;
- Recognized the importance of the Russian initiative to the creation of a common information resource for SMEs which will promote companies’ inclusion in global supply chains and will ultimately foster innovation development in the APEC region;
- Endorsed the adoption of the “Guideline on Promoting SME Business Continuity Plans to Strengthen Reliability of Supply Chains”, formulated by an Expert Group in Chinese Taipei, and urged APEC fora and governments to cooperate on assisting SMEs to develop disaster preemptive mechanisms in accordance with the Guideline;
- Welcomed work that promotes the exchange of best practices for instruments that support innovative SMEs and MEs and instructed officials to develop capacity-building activities to deliver effective economic and technical cooperation;
- Recognized the importance of the inclusion of young entrepreneurs in economic activities and, in this regard, supported the implementation of the Young Entrepreneurs Network (YEN) and welcomed the first YEN meeting that was held on August 2, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Russia; endorsing the results of the first meeting and agreeing with the format of this event on an ongoing basis as a part of the SME Working Group;
- Reaffirmed the crucial role of SMEs and MEs as an integral part of economic growth and as a source of forward-thinking ideas; and instructed officials to pay special attention to innovative SMEs and MEs in the work of SMEWG in the near future (2013-2016).
Dr Wimonkan KOSUMAS (Ms)
Deputy Director General of the Office of SMEs Promotion
TST Tower, 21 Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road,
Jatujak District, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
Tel: +662 298 3013-4
+662 298 3232-3
Fax: +662 273 8850
Anh Tuan TU (Mr)