ASEAN is now at the final phase of the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. Under the third pillar “Equitable Economic Development”, the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is highlighted where the progress of SMEs is key towards narrowing the development gap.

The establishment of the AEC, expected by the end of 2015, involves initiatives for regional economic integration. Work to deepen both internal and external integration will continue to evolve beyond 2015. It is anticipated that the enhanced movement of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour will attract investment and enhance economic activities in ASEAN. While this will open up new opportunities, at the same time, such benefits of integration must also be fully recognized by SMEs in the ASEAN region.

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