Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) make up 90 per cent of businesses in the Asia-Pacific region, but only 35 per cent of the region’s exports, according to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Business Advisory Council’s (ABAC) most recent report, signalling a need for measures to improve the inclusion and competitiveness of MSMEs in international trade.
The ABAC Report to Leaders 2017 was recently presented to heads and representatives of the 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim that form the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), whose leader’s summit meeting will take place next month in Vietnam.
Brunei’s ABAC representatives Yang Berhormat Hafimi Abdul Haadii and Soon Loo presented the annual report to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Perkerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awang Lim Jock Seng earlier this week.
“The ABAC report serves as a benchmark for Brunei as we enhance our own policies and procedures to be competitive regionally. It provides us with potential best practices and case studies which can be adapted to Wawasan 2035,” said YB Hafimi.
This year’s report, entitled “Creating New Dynamisms, Fostering a Shared Future” focuses on smart agriculture, deeper regional economic integration, sustainable and innovative economic growth and enhancing of MSMEs in the digital era.
To improve the competitiveness of MSMEs and develop them to become direct participants of international trade, the report calls for enhancing MSMEs’ global presence through digital platforms, promoting innovative business models, enhancing women’s economic empowerment and strengthening links between MSMEs and larger enterprises.
ABAC Brunei said they are currently engaging in these initiatives, which seeks to build the capacities of MSMEs, helping them strengthen their position in the global competitive market.
“ABAC has been calling on governments to enhance the participations of MSMEs in the Global Value Chains through various initiatives including engaging big business to set in place fair practice mechanisms to enable MSMe to access supply chains,” added YB Hafimi. “In Brunei, we are promoting initiatives to build capacities of MSMEs to meet the global standards by working with all agencies under the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minsiter’s Office and possible alignment with companies/projects under Darussalam Assets to effectively tap into supply chains.”
ABAC was created in 1995 by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as a private sector council, made up of three members from private industry of each of the APEC member economies that present recommendations on the region’s business sector’s priorities and concerns.
Each year, the council presents a report identifying key issues in the business economy and provides recommendations on how to address them; serving as a guideline for governments to use when developing initiatives and creating policies to further progress their economic growth.
Findings in this year’s eport also call for governments to remain committed and introduce policies to enable a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). As a member of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the report hopes to see Brunei and other TPP parties implement the commitments of the agreement as soon as possible to benefit their economies, paving the way to achieving economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region.