Ministers in charge of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are pushing for initiatives to foster financing and digital transformation for SMEs and entrepreneurs in a bid to enhance their competitiveness and accelerate growth.
“For SMEs to thrive, they need access to credit and diverse funding sources. Without adequate financing, SMEs struggle to gain market entry, scale up, and benefit from new technologies,” the APEC SME ministers said in a statement issued following their meeting in Concepcion, Chile last week.
The ministers said they support the development of new financial services, including through innovative digital tools that improve financial inclusion throughout the internationalization process.
“We encourage more policy exchange and financing experience sharing with the private sector to boost public-private partnerships and raise awareness among SMEs about the benefits of the financial technology industry,” they said.
The ministers also pushed for the development of policies that support fair business-to-business and business-to-government commercial relations that promote a culture of timely payment to SMEs.
“We note that SMEs are especially reliant on prompt payment flows through their supply chains. Late payments can lead SMEs to turn to alternative sources of financing, which may incur higher interest or result in debt,” they added.
The ministers further underscored the need for SMEs to foster innovation and promote digitalization to the SMEs, which is deemed essential for boosting inclusive economic growth.
“We encourage APEC initiatives that promote the digitalization of SMEs such as online-to-offline channels, mobile-commerce, sharing economy and the Internet of Things,” they said.
They likewise emphasized the potential for Big Data and data analytics to improve SME production processes and encourage internationalization.
“E-commerce platforms can serve as important channels for SMEs to gain greater access to diverse global markets and can mitigate risk within supply chains. We welcome the efforts led by ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Council) to promote the development of e-commerce among SMEs, which will facilitate the B2B (business-to-business) transactional phase of the APEC MSME marketplace,” the APEC SME ministers added.