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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Minister Fontaine inaugurates 25th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting in Concepción

Around 60 ministers and senior officials from 17 APEC economies attended the event, which concludes on Friday. The focal points of discussion this year are: digital transformation, internationalization and financial access for SMEs.

Thursday, September 5, 2019. Economy, Development and Tourism Minister, Juan Andrés Fontaine, inaugurated the 25th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting, being held today and tomorrow, as part of the APEC SME Week taking place in the Mitrinco Convention Center in the Biobío region of southern Chile.

During the opening address, the minister was accompanied by Biobío Regional Governor, Sergio Giacaman, the Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Mauricio Gutiérrez, as well as Content Director for APEC Chile, Krasna Bobenrieth.

“For us it is extremely important what we can learn from these discussions with the APEC economies, as well as what we can reveal about our experience in order to benefit the internationalization of SMEs”, said Minister Fontaine.

For his part, Regional Governor Giacaman noted that, “for us as a region, to be hosts, allows us not only to showcase our region to those participating, but also to offer our entrepreneurs the opportunity to participate in an event of this standing”. 

The main focus of the meeting, which forms part of the different activities leading up to the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in November, has been to discuss the issues of digital transformation, internationalization and financial access for SMEs. 

In this respect, the Economy Minister said, “I would like to take this opportunity to state that we, as Government, are working hard to develop small- and medium-sized enterprises, accompanying them in the process of simplifying all procedural preparation so that they can start-up and develop. These efforts are paying off because in August, the creation of new companies in Chile broke all records: more than 13,000 new enterprises were created during this month and over 141,000 in the last 12 months”. 

Around 60 people attended the meeting, including ministers and senior officials from 17 APEC economies. International authorities included the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Gilbert Kaplan; chief economist at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, Wang Xinzhe; Minister of Production of Peru, Rocío Barrios; Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, Hirofumi Takinami; Minister of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam, Nguyen Chi Dung; Minister of Commerce and Industry of Papua New Guinea, Wera Mori, among other senior officials. 

The final result of the 25th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting will be the Ministerial Declaration, to be signed by the participating ministers and senior officials. The document will outline the consensus reached during the APEC SME Week as well as the new initiatives for 2020.

Innovation and entrepreneurs

In parallel to the Ministerial Meeting, the fourth day of the APEC SME Week was marked by innovation and women entrepreneurs.

The first activity held on Thursday was a meeting on “Empowering the global entrepreneurship of women through digital commerce”. The keynote speaker was Jake Colvin, executive director of the Global Innovation Forum (GIF) and vice-president at the National Foreign Trade Council.

The Innovation Forum also took place in the morning, which was inaugurated by Pablo Terrazas, executive vice-president of the Chilean economic development agency CORFO, and moderated by John Williams (USA), director of Innovation and Technology at the Office of Investment and Innovation (OII) of the US Small Business Administration (SBA).

Mr. Williams implements and supervises the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which coordinates investment in technological development across all 11 U.S. federal agencies in strategic government projects led by small- and medium-sized enterprises. SBIR administrates around US$2.5 billion per year, which is the total amount these 11 U.S. federal agencies have for such investment.