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Small and Medium Enterprises

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the engines of growth and innovation in the APEC region. They account for over 97 percent of all business and employ over half of the workforce across APEC economies. They contribute significantly to economic growth, with their share of GDP ranging from 40 percent to 60 percent in most economies. However, they only account for 35 percent or less of direct exports. APEC’s Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group works to encourage the development of SMEs and to build their capacity to engage in international trade.

First established in February 1995 as the Ad Hoc Policy Level Group on SMEs (PLGSME), the group was renamed the Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) in 2000. The SME Working Group (SMEWG) is the champion within APEC for the inclusive development of sustainable, resilient and innovative SMEs. It is the main forum where APEC economies exchange information, views, best practices and analysis concerning SMEs in the APEC region.

The SMEWG is the champion within APEC for the inclusive development of sustainable, resilient and innovative SMEs. In this group APEC economies exchange information, views, best practices and analysis concerning SMEs in the APEC.

The APEC SME Ministerial Meetings, held annually since 1994, set out the direction for the working group. In September 2020 SME Ministers endorsed the SMEWG Strategic Plan for 2021–2024, which provided a roadmap to address critical issues pertaining to the growth of SMEs and microenterprises in the APEC region.

These priorities are the following:

  • Entrepreneurship, innovation, and start-ups
  • SME access to international markets and global value chains (GVCs)
  • Inclusive capability development towards digitalization
  • Access to finance and alternative financial solutions
  • Government to business interaction

In addition, the SMEWG will work on implementing the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, including the third driver of the Aotearoa Plan of Action  “Strong, Balanced, Secure, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.”

Last page update: February 2022

Contacts

Norlela Bte Suhailee (Ms)
SMEWG Chair
Darussalam Enterprise
Email: [email protected]
Aaron SYDOR (Mr)
APEC SMEWG Vice Chair

Global Affairs Canada
Email: [email protected]

Carlos Obando (Mr)
Program Director

Current Activities

In 2021, the SMEWG had two plenary meetings hosted virtually by Canada (18-19 May) and New Zealand (23-24 September).

APEC economies shared information regarding best practices and COVID-19 measures, among other SME-related topics. At the second meeting, the SMEWG endorsed the “APEC Policy Recommendations from the APEC Policy Dialogue: SMEs and Entrepreneurship Framework.”

The 27th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting, virtually hosted by New Zealand, was held virtually on 9 October 2021. At this meeting, Ministers issued the 2021 Ministerial Statement promoting the inclusive development of sustainable, resilient, digitally-enabled and innovative MSMEs to navigating the recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and implementing the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040.

The 28th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting will be carried out in Thailand in September 2022.

The current active APEC-funded SMEWG projects are the following:

In addition, in 2021 the SMEWG endorsed the following self-funded projects:

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