Friday, May 20, 2011

SMEs told to include green growth strategies in plans

BIG SKY (Montana): Asia Pacific's small and medium businesses must include green growth strategies into their business development plans to increase their competitiveness globally said US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

"Green growth is more than just a solar company or a wind turbine plant, it's an entirely new way of economic growth," he said in a keynote address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 2011 SME Ministerial meeting.

Apec, which represents 21 member economies including Malaysia, will create a supportive environment to stimulate innovation and foster green growth.

The Competitiveness and Green Growth Forum discussed ways to help Apec economies incorporate green growth policies into the business development plans of SMEs.

It also paved the groundwork for the Apec SME ministers' discussions on green growth-focused technical and financial assistance programmes for SMEs.

Locke also met chief executives of US businesses to discuss the importance of SMEs in the global supply chain for large American companies and the critical role SMEs play in bringing innovative products and services to the marketplace.

Locke said that over the next few decades, world economies will need to rebuild and reinvent virtually every industrial activity - from power generation and transportation to manufacturing and construction.

In the US for example, buildings consume 40 per cent of energy and 73 per cent of electricity and they are responsible for about 39 per cent of carbon emissions, exceeding that of transportation or industrial sectors.

Greening these buildings can create immense economic opportunity, with the overall green building market projected to reach as much as US$140 billion (RM422.8 billion) worldwide by 2013.

A big part of the answer lies with the SMEs, which is why Apec member economies need to put the empowerment of small businesses at the very centre of the economic agenda.

However, small companies continue to face hurdles in the Apec region.

According to the International Trade Commission and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, excessive transportation costs and customs clearance delays, difficulty protecting intellectual property and preferential tariff rates, and lack of access to financing and information are the main culprits to growth.

Locke urged Apec member economies to pursue policies that unleash innovation and enable entrepreneurs.

He also said that policies need to be developed to give entrepreneurs the tools to succeed no matter where they live. -

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