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 APEC 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 fora 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 SMEs that are well prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century. 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.

Last page update: January 2021

Current Activities

On 21–22 October 2020, the SMEWG had its first virtual meeting to exchange information regarding best practices and COVID-19 measures, among other SMEs related topics.

The 26th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting was also held virtually on 23 October 2020. In that opportunity, APEC SME Ministers approved the Ministerial Statement “Navigating the New Normal: Restarting and Reviving MSMEs through Digitalisation, Innovation and Technology”

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

In 2020 SMEWG endorsed the following self-funded projects:

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21 Sep

HCP Session; Patient Roundtable (SME 01 2020A)

Virtual Meeting,
27 Sep

Perspectives on Ethical Business Practices for Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) (SME 01 2020A)

Virtual Meeting,
27 Sep

2021 APEC Business Ethics for SMEs Plenary (SME 01 2020A)

Virtual Meeting,

Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial (Week of 5 October)

Virtual Meeting,

Contact Us

Ms Norlela Bte Suhailee

APEC Small & Medium Working Group
Darussalam Enterprise
[email protected]


Program Director
[email protected]