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How do APEC region SMEs leverage digitization for trade - data on >4,500 firms for UPS

Asia-Pacific economies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been recovering from the Covid-19 crisis over the past two years. While many SMEs did not survive the crisis, those that did leveraged ecommerce and exports as growth levers.

However, complacency is not warranted: today’s inflationary pressures and fears of another economic downturn highlight for the regional governments the importance of policies that ensure SME resiliency.

The purpose of this study, based on a proprietary survey of 4,700 firms in twelve Asia-Pacific economies, is to assess the recovery, growth and resilience of different types of Asia-Pacific SMEs in the past three years; the importance of ecommerce, digitization, and trade in SMEs’ recovery; SMEs’ investment priorities in 2023-24; and the leading challenges SMEs face to sustained growth.

The policy message from the data is clear: to safeguard SME resilience and ensuring inclusive growth, Asia-Pacific governments need to urgently focus on reducing trade costs by facilitating trade, digitizing trade compliance, improving the quality of logistics services, and lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers in their own and export markets.

Governments also need to nurture the unprecedented wave of female entrepreneurship by ensuring women-led firms, especially the ones that have come to life during the past three years, have an equal playing field. Policies need to support women’s empowerment and enable women-led firms to grow through trade: enable women-led firms to leverage ecommerce and digital technologies, access new markets, and use higher-quality trade services.


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