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APEC says going digital is ‘necessary’ for small businesses to survive amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
By doing this, APEC wants member economies to work together, promoting and encouraging the transition of the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises to the emerging digital economy.
Malaysia’s Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives, Dato Sri Dr Haji Wan Junaidi says that going digital is ‘not an option’ and it ‘has to be done’.
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“It is a necessity to survive,” he said in his opening remarks of the APEC 26th Small, and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting held virtually on Friday.
APEC ministers who are in charge of small and medium enterprise policy exchanged mixed views to address the economic impact that COVID-19 has caused.
Small and medium enterprises have played a big role in the region’s economic growth, which contributes around 40% — 60% of the growth for domestic products of most APEC economies.
Members of APEC have been so far providing support for the sector ranging from tax reliefs, wage subsidies, interest rates reduction, of loans and refinancing so business owners and managers can maintain their workflow from being suspended and continue contributing tho the world’s economy.
“In the new normal, businesses must pivot their strategies and business models to adapt to the digital economy and incorporate innovation and technology to remain resilient,” he added. “Besides all the fiscal stimulus, it is equally imperative to support MSMEs to go digital while helping them to adjust and overcome the challenges,” said Dato Sri Dr Haji Wan Junaidi.
Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, confirms that the policy work undertaken by other APEC groups can contribute to helping small and medium enterprises in the region.
“Support for small and medium enterprises in APEC is cross-cutting and requires close partnership within our fora and the private sector,” she said.
“We need to advance progress in structural reforms, trade facilitation and digital initiatives such as the single window implementation to make it easier, faster and cheaper to do business in the region and to ensure seamless flow of good and services within economies and across the borders.”