SME Developments in ASEAN

Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including micro enterprises are integral to the economic development and growth of the ASEAN Member States. They constitute the largest number of establishments and contribute significantly to the labour force of ASEAN Member States (AMS).  SMEs account for between 88.8% and 99.9% total establishments in AMS and between 51.7% and 97.2% of total employment. The contribution of these enterprises to each AMS’ GDP is between 30% and 53% and the contribution of SMEs to exports is between 10% and 29.9%.  Hence, these enterprises are important in terms of income and employment generation, gender and youth empowerment through their diverse business participation, and their widespread presence in the non-urban and rural areas. SMEs are thus the backbone of ASEAN and SME development is fundamental towards achieving long-run and sustainable economic growth and narrowing the development gap.

In ASEAN, cooperation on SME development began way back in 1995, when fostering SME development became one of the priority areas in respect of policy focus and resources. The ASEAN SME Agencies Working Group (SMEWG), which comprised representatives from all SME Agencies of all AMS, was formed to formulate policies, programmes and activities on SME development. The SMEWG served as a consultative and coordination forum to ensure the development of SMEs under the on-going process of ASEAN integration and support the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community. An SME Advisory Board (SMEAB) comprised of both members of SME agencies and the private sector sit to enhance the public-private sector collaboration on SME activities.

The SMEWG’s work was governed by the Strategic Action Plan for ASEAN SME Development 2010-2015 and covered mandates as stipulated in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint.  There were several major deliverables targeted for SME under the AEC Blueprint namely the establishments of (a) a common curriculum for entrepreneurship in ASEAN; (b) a  SME service center portal; (c) an SME financial facility in each AMS; and (d) a regional program of internship scheme for staff exchanges and visits for skills training.

In January 2016, the name of ASEAN SME Agencies Working Group (SMEWG) was changed to ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) to better reflect the expanded scope of work to cover micro-enterprises and to reflect the need to expand the composition of the committee to include representatives from other areas beside the MSME agencies. In conjunction with the new adoption of ACCMSME name, the name of the ASEAN SME Advisory Board was amended into the new name of the ASEAN MSME Advisory Board (AMAB), to reflect this development.

The ACCMSME is currently governed by the ten-year ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development (SAPSMED 2016-2025) under the post-2015 ASEAN Vision.  The SAPSMED 2016-2025, which was launched at the sidelines of the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015, serves to strengthen SMEs and micro enterprises’ engagement in an increasingly competitive economic environment and to support their growth and development through the vision of a “Globally Competitive and Innovative SMEs”, and that by 2025, ASEAN shall create more globally competitive and resilient SMEs.   The Plan’s five goals are to promote technology, productive and innovation; increase access to finance; enhance market access and internationalisation; enhance the policy and regulatory environment; and promote entrepreneurship and human capital development.

The current chair of ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) is:

Ms. Norlela Suhailee
Acting Head of Business Advisory & Services
Darussalam Enterprise (DARe)
Brunei Darussalam

Click here for ACCMSME Leads