APEC renews commitment to support small business


U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago opens the APEC small and medium enterprises
Ministerial meeting
| Credit: APEC

NEW YORK – On Monday, August 21, at the culmination of a month-long series of meetings in Seattle, WA, the Asia-Pcific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministers renewed their commitments to promoting, prioritizing, and empowering micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to thrive wildly in fast-growing technology sectors as well as the blue and green sectors that are driving global growth.

A report by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business found that MSMEs have high frustration and anxiety about the future. This is likely due to the uncertainties brought about by the long-term impact of the pandemic and the inability to compete with larger companies in adopting digital technologies.

“We must maintain interconnectedness between government and small businesses so that we, in government, can adapt the ways that we serve small businesses as the world evolves,” U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago said as she opened the meeting.

She added that as priorities change, she urged the ministers to create an enabling environment that fosters innovation and boundary-breaking by businesses of all sizes. “And finally,” she said, “bringing small businesses to the table strengthens our efforts to create an inclusive future for all.”

APEC brought small business entrepreneurs to share their experiences and challenges in accessing the global value chains, expanding their market through e-commerce, digital payment, and tools, and making the green transition. Entrepreneurs called for more support from the government in opening up access to markets and building their capacity to do cross-border trade.

In response to the calls from entrepreneurs, the ministers shared their commitment to continue to support MSMEs by working to increase their uptake of digital tools, technologies, and skills, as well as participation in global value chains, cross-border e-commerce, and digital trade.

They also recognized the potential of MSMEs, which include those owned or led by women, to contribute to the green transitions and discussed measures to boost their competitiveness through the adoption of green practices and policies that will help the development of innovative new technologies for MSMEs to thrive in the global market.

ABAC representative Monica Whaley shared with the ministers the recommendations for the economic success of MSMEs, saying that MSMEs are the connective tissue of all member economies.

She said that the council recommends APEC member economies rethink the existing MSME programs since these were either complex or lacked coherence and create new programs that classified MSMEs by needs and stages of development. Collaboration and engagement with entrepreneurs and small business owners are critical in ensuring that policies, programs, and enablers are well-targeted and efficient.

In closing, Undersecretary Lago said: “Together we can forge pathways to growth for MSMEs, including those owned or led by individuals with untapped economic potential such as women, Indigenous Peoples, peoples with disabilities, and those from remote and rural communities.”

–With Ricky Rillera/PDM

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