ASEAN establishes SME Advisory Board to elevate status of regional enterprises

09:51, June 17, 2011      

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Representatives of ASEAN country members established the ASEAN Small- and Medium- Enterprises (SME) Advisory Board, marking another key milestone in further elevating the status of SMEs in the Southeast Asian region, a statement released by the ASEAN Secretariat said Thursday.

This establishment was unveiled at the recent gathering of the Heads of SME Agencies. Prominent private sector representatives from 10 ASEAN Member States will deliberate in Singapore on the issues, challenges and the way forward for regional cooperation to foster SME development.

The SME Advisory Board will provide strategic policy inputs on SME development to the ASEAN Economic Ministers and guidance on high-priority matters to the ASEAN SME Working Group. The Board's establishment is timely as ASEAN Leaders have placed more attention on Equitable Economic Development, which comprises SME development and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint.

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, Pushpanathan Sundram said, "The establishment of the Advisory Board marks an important start in looking at more comprehensive and innovative ways to develop our SMEs."

P'ng Cheong Boon, Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore stressed the importance of SMEs as an important source of income and employment and that governments have looked at SME development as a key policy priority. "However, much remains to be done to bring actual performance of our SMEs closer to their rich potential," he said.

The Board will function on the vision "To promote innovative, competitive and resilient ASEAN SMEs as the new engine of growth that would contribute to the equitable economic growth." It will hold the next meeting in Brunei Darussalam, on the sidelines of the 29th SME Working Group Meeting in November this year, to deliberate and provide strategic policy inputs to the ASEAN Economic Ministers.

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