26th APEC SME meeting addresses digitalisation challenge

Wan Junaidi chaired the 26th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) ministerial meeting on Oct 23, 2020.

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KUCHING, Oct 24: The 26th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) ministers affirmed the pivotal role of digitalisation, innovation and technology in building the resilience of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) amid Covid-19.

APEC SME ministerial meeting (APEC SMEMM) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in a statement said in harnessing the opportunities of digital economy, they acknowledged the importance of cooperation on facilitating the flow of data and strengthening consumer and business trust in digital transactions.

“We are committed to supporting MSMEs digital transformation efforts and will work together to address the challenges of digitalisation such as security and privacy concerns, skills deficit and digital infrastructure, at the same time, committed to fostering an open, fair, non-discriminatory and market-driven enabling environment for digital economy and MSMEs development.

“We will work on developing the digital potential of MSMEs, including women-owned businesses by expanding access to digital tools, removing barriers to digital trade and e-commerce, providing digital skills-building activities and enhancing access to information and communications technologies for business development and cross-border commerce,” Wan Junaidi said, after the APEC SME ministers and representatives convened virtually, yesterday.

A screen shot of the virtual meeting

Under the current circumstances, he assured that they will continue to address uncertainties and challenges, finding new opportunities to ensure APEC economies are on the right path to recovery and resilience, while supporting each other in this time of crisis.

He also acknowledged many economies are providing soft loans, refinancing facilities, wage subsidies, tax relief, interest rate reductions and other subsidies to help sustain businesses through crisis.

“Significant actions are undertaken by economies, such as providing immediate relief for MSMEs through unprecedented levels of fiscal stimulus, and temporary measures to cushion the impact of the pandemic and to restart and revive economies,” he said, adding that economies were encouraged to improve MSMEs access to finance and diversify their funding sources.

Wan Junaidi, who is also the Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives, Malaysia pointed that APEC members regard MSMEs as crucial to the economy for they contributed between 40 percent and 60 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing a significant part of the workforce in APEC economies.

Meanwhile, the APEC SMEMM also endorsed the APEC SME Working Group Strategic Plan 2021-2024 which sets the objectives in five priority areas namely; entrepreneurship, innovation and startups, SME access to international markets and global value chains (GVCs); inclusive capability development towards digitalisation; access to finance and alternative financial solutions; and government to business interaction. — DayakDaily