The Minister for Small Business says support for small and medium enterprises will remain ongoing as the Asia-Pacific region moves through response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stuart Nash today chaired a virtual summit from Wellington for the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM).
“APEC Ministers responsible for SMEs met in the midst of a global economic and health crisis, which left small businesses among those hardest hit,” Stuart Nash said.
“Collectively we agreed on the need to place SMEs at the heart of our economic recovery. The APEC meeting focussed on a theme of building ‘resilience in a world with COVID-19’.
“APEC Ministers want close attention on the role of digitalisation to enable effective recovery, as well as greater inclusion for women and indigenous peoples, to enhance the wellbeing of SMEs and the people who work in them.
“We also recognise that SME owners and operators belong to families, participate in communities and have their own aspirations and ambitions. We need to ensure the mental wellbeing of SME owners is acknowledged alongside efforts to improve the financial resilience of their business.
“The policy levers discussed at today’s meeting will have a positive impact on SMEs, and help unlock their potential as drivers of economic growth and innovation while APEC economies rebound from the impacts of COVID-19.
“APEC members and global economies responded urgently to the needs of business communities as the pandemic unfolded. In New Zealand, a wide range of financial support has been rolled out following the community outbreak in August. This includes:
Four rounds of wage subsidies worth more than $3.04 billion, for 1.26 million jobs in 321,000 businesses, including 175,000 people who are self-employed
Three rounds of resurgence support payments for businesses’ fixed costs, worth $947 million across 319,000 applicants
Concessionary interest-free loans for SMEs, worth more than $105 million for 6,500 businesses
“Our support for SMEs is grounded in the principle that the best economic response is a strong health response. We will continue to support the sector in our COVID-19 response and recovery.
“As our pandemic response evolves we will keep pursuing initiatives to strengthen the resilience of SMEs, build sustainable growth in the APEC region, and keep up the momentum of economic recovery.
“SMEs account for more than 97 per cent of all businesses across the Asia Pacific region, and are the heartbeat of all APEC economies. They employ more than half the workforce and make a significant contribution to economic growth. Typically 40 per cent of GDP of most APEC economies derives from SMEs,” Mr Nash said.
During the meeting, APEC Ministers delivered a Joint Ministerial Statement, which will direct efforts for building the capability of SMEs across the region. The statement is on the APEC website here: https://www.apec.org/Meeting-Papers/Sectoral-Ministerial-Meetings/Small-and-Medium-Enterprise/2021_sme
The APEC SME Ministerial Meeting takes place annually, last occurring in October 2020.