Manado, North Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - China has expressed its willingness to assist ASEAN small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to enter its market, Indonesian Deputy Trade Minister Mahendra Siregar said here on Friday.

Mahendra made the statement after meeting with China`s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on the sideline of the 43rd ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Manado which started last Aug 10 and will end on Aug 14.

"At today`s meeting, Minister Chen stated his country`s willingness to assist SMEs from ASEAN member states to enter China`s market. China`s market is highly competitive and therefore facilitation from the government will be useful," said Mahendra.

Earlier, Indonesian Minister of Trade Mari Elka Pangestu stated one of the important aspects for a more inclusive and equitable ASEAN Economic Community was the participation of SMEs in the region.

"SMEs play an important role in ASEAN, including in Indonesia. SMEs have also proven to be resilient and dynamic. In order to realize the vision for an inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient ASEAN, we need to engage SMEs and ensure that they benefit from the ASEAN Economic Community," Mari said.

More than 96 percent of business units in ASEAN are SMEs. SMEs account for 99 percent of business units in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. Based on ASEAN Secretariat data, SMEs generate between 50 percent and 95 percent of employment, make up 30 percent to 53 percent of the total GDP and 19 percent to 31 percent of total exports in ASEAN.

Therefore, Indonesia as the ASEAN chair this year was actively proposing the adoption of the framework of an inclusive and equitable development strategy with special focus on two elements, namely development of SMEs and narrowing development gaps. In this respect, the 43rd AEM in Manado was expected to establish an ASEAN SMEs Advisory Board, development of an ASEAN SMEs Business Portal, the staging of an ASEAN SMEs Trade Fair and an awareness campaign on the benefits of FTA for SMEs.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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