APEC ministers pledge financial, digital backing for SMEs

08:42 | 25/09/2017 Cooperation

(VEN) - The 24th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting took place in Ho Chi Minh City from September 10-15, attracting the participation of about 200 representatives of businesses from the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

apec ministers pledge financial digital backing for smes

Themed “Enhancing the competitiveness and creativity of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the era of globalization”, the meeting focused on facilitating business access to markets and deepening their engagement in global value chains. Participants also discussed ways to create a favorable environment for MSMEs to access modern technologies, improve their management skills and increase competitive edge; and to promote entrepreneurship and business ethics.

A series of related meetings took place during the event, such as the 45th APEC Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Working Group Meeting, APEC Online to Offline (O2O) Forum, APEC Startup Forum, and Forum on APEC Digital Economy.

Policy makers from APEC economies, owners of e-commerce platforms, incubators, accelerators and experts were encouraged to support SMEs/startups in fully utilizing the opportunities created by digital technologies. The APEC O2O initiative also aims to raise awareness of digital resilience among SMEs/startups since the development of digital technology also exposes these enterprises to cyber threats.

Ho Sy Hung, Director of the Enterprise Development Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said the theme of these meetings was in line with the theme of APEC Year 2017, which focuses on businesses, especially SMEs. SMEs account for 97 percent of all businesses currently operating in Vietnam, contributing more than 40 percent of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP), and creating jobs for more than 50 percent of the country’s total workforce. Compared with larger-sized businesses, SMEs encounter more difficulties in accessing credit, land and markets.

According to Le Van Khuong, Head of the SME Development Division of the Enterprise Development Agency, although Vietnam has nearly 300 industrial zones, SMEs still face numerous difficulties in finding space for production and in business development. Economists believe a variety of official and unofficial costs also hinder the development of SMEs. Therefore, the government has paid great attention to supporting SMEs. The Law on Supporting SMEs was passed by the 14th National Assembly at its second session in May and will take effect on January 1, 2018.

At a recent workshop held to discuss measures to improve management skills for SMEs and launch the Signal Accelerator program, John Hill, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Vietnam, said the law reflects the Vietnamese government’s commitment to facilitate the private sector’s development.

Nguyen Hoa