They convened in Seattle on Monday in a culmination of month-long series of meetings that underline APEC’s commitment to create a resilient and sustainable future for all the people in the region.
A recent report by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business found that MSMEs expressed high levels of frustration and anxiety about the future, likely due to the uncertainties brought by long-term impact of the pandemic as well as the inability to compete with larger companies in the adoption of 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,” United States Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago said as she opened the meeting.
“As priorities change, we must work together to create the enabling environment that fosters innovation and boundary breaking by businesses of all sizes,” Under Secretary Lago added. “And finally, 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 trying to access the global value chains, expand their market through e-commerce, digital payment and tools, as well as make 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.
Responding to the calls from these entrepreneurs, ministers shared their commitment to continue to support MSMEs by working to increase their uptake to digital tools, technologies, and skills as well as participation in global value chains, cross-border e-commerce and digital trade.
Ministers also recognized the potential of MSMEs, including 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.
Understanding that MSMEs are the connective tissue of all member economies, ABAC representative Monica Whaley shared with ministers the recommendations for the economic success of MSMEs.
She said that the council recommends APEC member economies to rethink the existing MSMEs programs as they were either complex or lack 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.