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Building the competitive power of Asean SMEs

Representatives from 150 small and medium enterprises in Malaysia are attending a one-day workshop today in Kuala Lumpur, part of the US-Asean cooperation in boosting the competitiveness of Asean SMEs.

Hosted by the US-Asean Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs, more training activities will be held in Jakarta, Singapore and other cities in the region throughout the year. The alliance is also working to establish a cloud-based portal to support Southeast Asian SMEs.

Workshop participants learned more about how to boost their regional and global competitiveness by using e-commerce platforms and tools. Leaders from large US firms such as Baker & McKenzie, eBay, Google, PayPal and UPS shared information focusing on leveraging e-commerce platforms and payment tools, maximising international shipping and delivery services, the legal aspects of cross-border e-commerce, and strengthening global market presence through online marketing.

The United States and its private sector in partnership with Asean sponsored the ICT-focused workshop through the Business Alliance, a collaborative effort of the US-Asean Business Council and the US Agency for International Development.

"The United States supports the development of small businesses in Asean given their importance to foster economic growth in the region," US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun said in his opening remarks.

"It is therefore important that these businesses take advantage of learning new technologies from multinational companies, giving them the competitive edge and opportunities to enter new markets, regionally and globally."

The entrepreneurs had the opportunity to interact with representatives of multinational companies to build their knowledge of e-commerce techniques and ask questions about growing their businesses and joining the global supply chain.

While small businesses in Southeast Asia have been key to the region's economic growth, many have not taken full advantage of electronic commerce.

The Business Alliance, which will eventually hold activities in all 10 Asean countries, creates activities to provide SMEs an opportunity to learn from successful multinational companies as well as foster leadership talent for high-potential and high-growth SMEs, and promote strong corporate governance and business ethics.

The workshop in Malaysia was conducted in partnership with SME Corporation of Malaysia, an agency providing information and advisory services for all Malaysian SMEs.

"In today's world that is driven by development of the latest technology, entrepreneurs in the region must use e-commerce," said Hafsah Hashim. CEO of SME Corp.

"Not only will it save time in conducting transactions, e-commerce also increases the efficiency of small business operations and enables them to provide service

to a bigger base of customers."

"The world is open for business, and Malaysian SMEs are perfectly positioned to leverage technology and the power of logistics to reach new markets," said Shiumei Lin, vice president for public affairs at UPS and vice chairman of the US-Asean Business Council's Asean Committee.

"We hope this programme will provide the knowledge and best practices to navigate international trade and the world of e-commerce, including the opportunities and challenges associated with going global."


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