• Kyodo

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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Friday endorsed Japan’s proposal to help small and medium enterprises in the region.

Ministers responsible for SMEs from the 21-member APEC endorsed a comprehensive plan to assist smaller firms at their two-day meeting in the Brunei capital.

The proposal, prepared by Japan, focuses on areas such as management, research and development, increasing access to capital markets and matchmaking for businesses.

“Ministers welcomed Japan’s proposed project, . . which focuses on cooperation in the development of institutions related to SMEs and in (building capacity in) human resource development,” said a joint statement.

The ministers encouraged Japan and other advanced economies to act as joint coordinators in developing the cooperation programs, which will be sent to the summit of APEC leaders to be held in Brunei in November.

As a first step, a workshop will be held in Tokyo from Sept. 5 to 8 to launch the initiative. The target is to implement the programs next year.

In addition, the ministers also agreed on the need to develop a plan to improve e-commerce so SMEs will not be left behind.

“The ministers sought greater cooperation among member economies to facilitate the development of e-commerce in the region,” the statement said.

They also agreed on the need to exchange data regarding best practices and legal issues on e-commerce including government purchasing and intellectual property.

The statement said there was a broad consensus that governments should help SMEs overcome the problem of high initial investment costs in information and communication technology by creating an environment favorable to e-commerce.

They also welcomed Japan’s initiative to hold a forum on Internet businesses next year.