Asia-Pacific ministers discuss enhancing innovation for SMEs

09:11 | 30/09/2017 Ten Years An APEC

(VEN) - Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended the 24th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM) and related meetings in Ho Chi Minh City on September 15, marking one of the most important ministerial meetings within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) framework.

asia pacific ministers discuss enhancing innovation for smes
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (center, first row) and delegates at the 24th APEC SMEMM

Digital access

PM Phuc underlined the important role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the 21 APEC member states, where SMEs account for about 97 percent of the total enterprises, and about 60 percent of the total number of employees. They are considered a source of growth and innovation.

Over the past 30 years of reform, Vietnam has transformed from a poor country into a developing and middle-income country in 2010. The country’s development path is a vivid demonstration of the role and the significance of SMEs, PM Phuc added. The SME community is regarded as the main impetus for employment generation and contribution to socio-economic growth and stability.

PM Phuc highlighted the theme of the 24th APEC SMEMM, saying it demonstrates the aspirations of Vietnam to cooperate with other APEC member economies to foster SMEs’ innovation and global access in the digital era. The fourth industrial revolution with the introduction of new technologies, such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, advanced robots, nanotechnology and 3D printing, is changing people’s lives around the world. In this trend, SMEs with limitations in technologies, financial capacity and administration will be the most vulnerable, but they are also the most dynamic and adaptable. Therefore, it is necessary to support and encourage the development of SMEs in order to help them expand their scale, promote technological innovation, improve productivity and make significant contributions to socio-economic development.

asia pacific ministers discuss enhancing innovation for smes
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the 24th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting

Enhancing competitiveness and innovation

According to Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, rapid advances in digital technology, the ever-changing global economy, new opportunities and development conditions for SMEs are making demands on various agencies to apply rational supportive methods to promote competitiveness and innovation by SMEs.

Participants also discussed the creation of the business environment for SMEs by providing easier access to modern technologies, management skills, and infrastructure for training, consultancy and connectivity.

Dr. Alan Bollard, executive director of the APEC Secretariat, said the 24th APEC SMEMM focused on using digital technology, managing supply chain and e-commerce to help local SMEs access to APEC member states.

Dr. Alan Bollard said the forum was seeking ways to use e-commerce to provide opportunities for international transactions and branding promotion, as well as looking forward to the APEC 2017 Economic Leaders’ Week in November in Da Nang.

Vietnam’s National Assembly has promulgated the Law on Support for Small-and Medium-sized Enterprises, while the government has issued a number of important policies in order to build a healthy and inclusive business environment conducive to progress during Industry 4.0.

Vietnam hopes to receive cooperation from APEC member economies to enhance the capacity of its tax system in order to encourage trade and production activities and fair competition, and prevent transfer pricing and tax evasion by foreign investors, PM Phuc added. He also recommended building a support fund for SMEs and encouraging them to strengthen their connectivity with multinational groups and engage in the global value chains.

PM Phuc suggested implementing more synchronous measures to increase SMEs’ competitiveness and creativity, such as facilitating business access to markets and deeper engagement in global value chains. Other measures include enabling MSMEs to gain access to new technology solutions, improve management capacity and increase their competitive edge, promoting entrepreneurship and business ethics, and developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly start-up ecosystem in order to promote competitiveness and innovation among SMEs in the region.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called on countries in the Asia-Pacific region to foster trust and determination in order to maintain a peaceful environment and ensure safety and security for the free transfer of goods, services and investment flows.

Thao Duong Long