Member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) were urged to develop and boost digital infrastructure to allow micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) participate in cross-border trade.
At the APEC SME Summit press briefing in Makati City on Tuesday, APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho said part of the group’s recommendation to APEC leaders was building digital infrastructure and innovation ecosystem in each member economy.
Ho said this initiative should involve crafting a roadmap that will target improving education in all levels, supporting research and development in universities, putting up university-based incubators, and promoting equal opportunities to start-ups.
She projected that economic growth of the region would be triggered by young start-up entrepreneurs who are capable of coming up with better solutions in the fast changing and unique demands of the 21st century market.
“What we are saying to our leaders is any economy that does not see it, not set up (digital) infrastructure, and will not put it in place, will be left out of future growth,” she added.
Ramon Lopez, Go Negosyo Executive Director, also pointed out that digital technology is the “great equalizer” for MSMEs to connect products and services of smaller businesses both in domestic and overseas markets like what large enterprises can do.
Lopez stressed that digital infrastructure, particularly Internet connectivity, provides “limitless possibilities” to MSMEs through e-commerce.
Global e-commerce is projected to value at US$ 9.9 trillion by 2020 with bulk of e-commerce purchases coming from the Asia Pacific.
Lopez said that digital infrastructure in place will also promote inclusive growth.
He added that with mobile technologies getting cheaper and access to Internet is improving, innovation now becomes more accessible to markets in all income levels. This means even the low-income communities have better access to information which can be used to start their economic activities.
“And that’s the reason why we’ve been really focused on empowering, inspiring, micro SMEs in the country to us for them to move up in life. That is the real lasting solution against poverty alleviation, so we’re glad that we had these talks, this forum, this Summit for there will be that will encourage innovation,” he said.
Furthermore, ABAC’s Ho mentioned that both public and private sectors in the Philippines will now push for digital infrastructure and innovation ecosystem roadmap.
“Digital infrastructure could not only change business, it could provide education for people on far-flung areas, who could go in the Internet and get a master’s degree over the Internet. It could be the greatest equalizer that we can do. It is so important for us to have a digital infrastructure as a key priority,” she said.