• Kyodo


Ministers and senior officials in charge of small and medium-size enterprises from Pacific Rim economies gathered in Gifu on Saturday to explore avenues for helping such firms expand globally.

“Small and medium-size companies are the engine of development. They account for 99.7 percent of companies in Japan and are supporting 70 percent of employment,” said trade minister Akihiro Ohata, who chaired the meeting.

“I would like participants (of the meeting) to express opinions and hold discussions actively on ways to seek the growth of small and medium-size companies,” Ohata said.

At the end of a two-day meeting, representatives from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum planned to release a joint statement on their discussions. Representatives from 20 of the 21-member APEC forum attended the meeting.

The annual meeting came ahead of the November APEC summit in Yokohama, and the discussions will be used to help develop a growth strategy.

In the meeting Saturday, the APEC economies were expected to discuss effects of the global financial crisis on small and medium-size companies in their respective countries, as well as measures they have implemented to counter it.

They also planned to discuss steps APEC economies should take as a whole in the next two to three years as many countries begin to seek exits from emergency measures.

Participants from each country also planned to express their views on longer-term policies for small and medium-size companies.

The chair of the meeting’s working group was expected to report on the progress of a four-year strategic plan on small and medium-size enterprises through 2012. The plan places emphasis on six fields, including improving business environments and promoting innovation.

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