Small and Medium Enterprises

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the engines of growth and innovation in the APEC region. SMEs account for over 97 per cent of all business and employ over half of the workforce across APEC economies. They contribute significantly to economic growth, with their share of GDP ranging from 20 per cent to 50 per cent in most APEC economies. However, they only account for 35 per cent or less of the direct exports. APEC’s Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) works to encourage the development of SMEs and to build their capacity to engage in international trade.

The SMEWG works toward the achievement of APEC’s Bogor Goals by fostering an enabling business environment for SMEs to grow and develop into export-ready firms. The APEC SME Ministerial Meetings, held annually since 1994, set out the direction for the working group. In September 2016, the SME Ministers endorsed the SMEWG Strategic Plan for 2017-2020 which provided a roadmap to address critical issues pertaining to the growth of SMEs and micro enterprises (MEs) in the APEC region: 

  • Entrepreneurship, innovation and the internet and digital economy
  • Financing for business expansion and capability development
  • Inclusive business ecosystem that supports SME growth
  • Market access for SMEs

Viet Nam, as last year’s hosts put “Strengthening MSMEs’ (micro, small and medium enterprises’) competitiveness and innovation in the digital age” as one of the 2017’s priorities, with three focused issues:

  • Facilitating MSMEs’ greater participation in GVCs
  • Facilitating the business environment for MSMEs for the digital age/globalization
  • Promoting start-ups and innovative MSMEs

The 24rd SME Ministerial Meeting was held in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2017, where a statement that promotes the theme “SMEs as engines of quality growth and prosperity” was released. During their meeting, Ministers endorsed the Strategy on Green, Sustainable and Innovative MSMEs, an Initiative on innovative startups and officially launched the APEC MSME Marketplace.

Last page update: September 2018

Current Activities

In 2018, under the overarching theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future,” APEC continues its efforts to support MSMEs in the region.

The SMEWG met twice in 2018. The 46th SMEWG Meeting was held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 26–27 March 2018 and the 47th SMEWG Meeting took place in Papua New Guinea on 12–13 September. In both meetings member Economies discussed the advancements on the implementation of the mandates of SME Ministers and the SMEWG Strategic Plan for 2017–2020. Members also exchanged information regarding best practices and agreed to continue strengthening cross fora collaboration in APEC as well as collaboration with external partners.

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APEC Small & Medium Working Group
Australian Government Department of Jobs and Small Business


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