Figure 1: SMEs' Economic Contribution


Figure 2: SMEs in APEC Region

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

First established in February 1995 as the Ad Hoc Policy Level Group on SMEs' (PLGSME), the objective was to assist SMEs improve their competitiveness and to facilitate a more open trade and investment environment. In 2000, the group was renamed the SMEWG and granted permanent status.

The SMEWG works towards the achievement of the Bogor Goals by fostering an enabling business environment for SMEs to grow and develop into export-ready firms.

A meeting of ministers responsible for SMEs has been held annually since 1994. In August 2012, the Ministers, at their 19th Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia endorsed the SMEWG Strategic Plan for 2013-2016 which provided a roadmap to address critical issues pertaining to the growth of SMEs and micro enterprises (MEs) in the APEC region, with the following priority areas for action:

1. Building Management Capability, Entrepreneurship and Innovation

2. Financing

3. Business Environment, Market Access and Internationalization.

The SMEWG collaborates with other APEC fora, in particular the Economic Committee (EC), the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC),  APEC Emergency-Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) and APEC's Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE).

Read more about APEC SMEWG's work