Lower digital barriers key to small businesses

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THE prospects for improved economic growth in the Asia-Pacific increasingly hinge on bridging the digital divide impeding the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are their foundation, according to the region’s business community.

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“No economy in the Asia-Pacific will realize its potential for new growth without healthy and expanding small businesses supported by the power of the internet,” said Juan Raffo, 2016 chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council.

Steps to enhance access to the internet and use of electronic commerce within the sector, opening up new market opportunities for small businesses, were among the policy recommendations fleshed out by representatives from the APEC Business Advisory Council this week in Shenzhen.

The recommendations will be considered by APEC senior officials and technical working groups when they convene in Lima, Peru later this month to engineer measures for optimizing growth and living standards in the region.

“It is incumbent upon governments and business to aggressively work to reduce barriers to digital development,” Ambassador Luis Quesada, 2016 Chair of the APEC Senior Officials, noted.

“There are huge opportunities for small firms to more widely engage in international commerce but the connectivity and knowhow needed to get started must be within reach,” he said

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