The ministerial-level meeting was organised in Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China. Carrying the theme “Drive the future with innovation, promote development through cooperation,” the meeting discussed several crucial issues on the development of Small and Medium Enterprises in Asia and Europe, namely:
- Improving SMEs’ capacity of independent innovation
- Creating sound service policy and supporting environment for SMEs, and
- Development and cooperation among SME industrial clusters
SMEs play an active role in the economic development and employment expansion of all countries in the world, enhancing the cooperation and exchanges among ASEM SEMs was highlighted at the ASEM Summit and received universal recognition from the Asian and European members. At the fifth ASEM Summit in 2004, Premier Wen proposed “strengthening SME cooperation, creating business opportunities, and promoting two-way trade and investment flows between Asia and Europe “. Last September, Premier Wen Jiabao, at the sixth ASEM Summit held in Helsinki, Finland, made it clearer that “China proposes hosting ‘ASEM SMEs Ministerial Meeting and Trade and Investment Fair” in 2007.
Currently, ASEM has 45 members in total, including 16 Asian member states, 27 EU member countries and the European Commission as well as the ASEAN Secretariat. Statistics shows that the countries within the ASEM mechanism account for 60 percent of global trade, 50 percent of the world economic output and 60 percent of the global population, of which SMEs contribute a large proportion, playing a positive role in the economic and social development of the members. It was made clear at the fifth and sixth ASEM Summit that SMEs have their increasing importance in the economy of ASEM members, and all members should strengthen inter-governmental cooperation to provide assistance for the international exchange of SMEs. Holding this SMEs Ministerial Meeting, we are to implement the guiding principles of the Summits, and to discuss and exchange the policy measures and practical experiences as well as strengthen pragmatic cooperation of ASEM members in the sector of SMEs.
This is the first SMEs Ministerial Meeting proposed and hosted by China within the ASEM framework. We hope that the success of this Meeting may help shape a regular mechanism for ASEM SME Ministerial Meeting. At the same time, we plan to submit the outcomes of the Meeting to the seventh ASEM Summit to be held in China next year, so as to further attract attentions to SMEs from the Summit .
The ASEM Trade and Investment Fair on Small and Medium Enterprises
The commencement of a trade and invesment fair on SMEs was endorsed by all ASEM partners at the 6th ASEM Summit on September 2006 in Helsinki. Highlighting the theme “Promoting SMEs’ Trade and Investment in Asia and Europe,” the event will offer various activities such as exhibitions, investment policy briefings and fora. It is set to provide a platform for dialogue and cooperation among ASEM countries and business people and government officials. It will also collect suggestions on SMEs development and submit the suggestions to ASEM SMEs Ministerial Meeting in Beijing.