JAKARTA - The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has agreed to strengthen the position and increase the competitive edges of small and medium enterprises (SME) in the ASEAN region, a minister said.
"It is important to maximize the potentials of SMEs in ASEAN and provided them with special treatments towards the creation of an ASEAN economic integration," Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said on Friday.
She made the remarks when she led the Preparatory Meeting of ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) in the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC).
During the preparatory meeting all ASEAN economic ministers agreed that building the capacity of SMES would help them play a role in the economic development within the ASEAN region.
"We need cooperation in encouraging the SMEs so that they would be able to take advantage of the ASEAN economic integration because it was proven that this group could provide significant contribution to the regional economy," she said.
ASEAN`s SME ministers have since 2010 produced a Master Plan on SME Development which was followed up with the establishment of "SME Advisory Board in 2011.
"We will meet them when we have an ASEAN Economic Ministry Meeting in August 2011 to follow up the SME concept," Minister Mari said.
She said that there would a recommendation that would become the focus of deliberations for the development of the ASEAN small and medium businesses.
The recommendation included efforts to develop SME, increase business standards and build information system in order to accelerate business adjustments.
It also includes efforts to initiate a special program for SMEs, provide with funding, set up business advisory and financial management services, reinforce technical cooperation capacity among them and integrate SMEs into ASEAN regional product networks.