The APEC SME Working Group (SMEWG) assists SMEs to become more competitive while seeking to contribute to a more open trade and investment environment. The group endorsed a strategic plan for 2013-2016 which will provide a roadmap to address critical issues and concerns pertaining to the growth of SMEs and micro enterprises (MEs) in the APEC region. The following are the priority areas for action:
- Building Management Capability, Entrepreneurship and Innovation;
- Financing; and
- Business Environment, Market Access and Internationalization.
Institutional lending: SMEs traditionally face impediments in securing finance and their situation has deteriorated with the global financial crisis. APEC hosts an annual meeting of finance officials and private institutions which deal with SMEs, in order to concentrate efforts to support them.
Structural reform: Many SMEs are excluded from the global market place, unable to accommodate the added time and cost of conducting cross-border trade. APEC continues to implement structural reforms, aimed to improve the ease of international business. These include simplified customs procedures, anti-corruption measures and the protection of intellectual property to reduce risks to SMEs embarking on market expansion.
Telecommunications infrastructure: In 1990, an average of only 0.08 percent of those living in APEC economies used the internet. In the majority of economies, this figure had soared to over 44 percent by 2005 and APEC Telecommunication Ministers are now pursuing universal access to broadband internet by 2015.