Jakarta (ANTARA) - US Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Yohannes Abraham, has said that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are integral to the economic growth of the region.

According to Abraham, supporting SMEs in ASEAN is of critical importance because around 99 percent of businesses in ASEAN nations are small and medium-sized. Additionally, 85 percent of the combined workforce of ASEAN states also works for SMEs.

"We think we have a great economic partnership already. And we want to look for ways to enhance it moving forward," he told ANTARA in Jakarta on Friday.

He added that the US is committed to working with ASEAN to boost the region's economy, one of which is through the US-ASEAN Business Council, a group of US companies with investments in ASEAN. They share best practices and conduct training for entrepreneurs in the region.

The US is one of the main trading partners of the region. It is also the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region, with a value reaching $40 billion in 2021. US goods and services trade with ASEAN stood at an estimated $441.7 billion in 2021.

Currently, there are more than 6,200 US companies operating within ASEAN.

"These are a couple of examples of our deep commitment to build on an already strong economic partnership and make it even stronger," Abraham said.

According to ASEAN data, there are 70 million MSMEs in ASEAN. Regionally, MSMEs contribute 85 percent to employment, 44.8 percent to the gross domestic product, and 18 percent to national exports.

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Reporter: Shofi Ayudiana
Editor: Anton Santoso
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