Keynote Address by H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Viet Nam, at the 24th SME Ministerial Meeting

(15 September 2017, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam)

Excellencies APEC Ministers and Heads of Delegation,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, I would like to warmly welcome SME Ministers, Heads of Delegations and distinguished guests to the 24th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM 24) and related meetings in Ho Chi Minh City, one of the most dynamic trade and economic centers of Viet Nam.

APEC today comprises of 21 member economies, representing 39% of the world population, 57% of global GDP, and nearly 50% of international trade. Accounting for 97% of enterprises and generating 60% of employment in the region, SMEs constitute an important driving force of each APEC economy. More importantly, they are the key drivers of growth and innovation of our APEC economies.

I highly appreciate the theme of today’s Meeting: "Strengthening the Competitiveness and Innovation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the Digital Age.” This is one of the four APEC 2017 priorities that reflects Viet Nam’s willingness to partner with member economies in enabling SMEs in the Asia - Pacific region to innovate, access information network and the global market, and thrive in the digital age.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The thirst for growth of each economy, along with the determination of each citizen to prosper, is the source of unlimited creativity and driving force of development of humanity in the digital age. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, with new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), advanced robots, nanotechnology, 3D printing, etc… has transformed the way of thinking, manufacturing, and living of all people in the world. In that context, SMEs, with limited technology capability, financial resources and governance capacity may be the most vulnerable, but also the most dynamic and responsive actor. It is therefore necessary to pay special attention and provide support to SMEs, to enable them to upscale, accelerate technological innovation, improve productivity, and contribute more significantly to socio-economic development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the course of 30 years of Rennovation (Doi Moi), Viet Nam has grown from a poor to a middle-income economy by 2010. Viet Nam’s path of development is a vivid testament to the role and importance of SMEs as a main driver of job creation. They also contribute to sustaining growth, stabilizing the socio-economic situation, and enabling people to alleviate poverty, to innovate and prosper.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the impact of digital technologies have been felt by each and every single business and people. In this context, the National Assembly of Viet Nam passed the Law on Support for SMEs. At the same time, the Government of Viet Nam, with the aim to facilitate the development of and take strong actions for our people, has made a number of important decisions to foster a healthy and inclusive business environment which is: (i) supportive, equal and reliable; (ii) business-friendly, specially SME-friendly; (iii) not only encouraging entrepreneurship, innovation, but also ensuring security for investors; (iv) not only reducing the cost, but also the risks of transactions; (v) not only respecting, but also honoring investors and businesses for their innovation, successes, and contribution to the society.

From Viet Nam’s perspectives, we look forward to receiving APEC’s support on strengthening the tax system to encourage production and businesses, promote healthy and fair competition, as well as to prevent transfer pricing, tax evasion… of some foreign investors. I would like also to call on SOM to set up an SME Support Fund to encourage SMEs to strengthen their linkages with multinational companies and further participate in the global value chains.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To strengthen SME’s competitiveness and innovation, we must join hands to implement simultaneously a number of solutions.

First, to create favorable conditions for businesses to access markets and engage deeper into the global value chains.

Second, to facilitate the business environment of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) by improving their access to advanced technology and managerial skills, as well as by supporting capacity building through education, consultancy and business connection.

Third, to promote APEC’s entrepreneurship in the digital age, to encourage start-ups and business ethics compliance.

Fourth, to develop sustainable and friendly start-up environment to boost up the spirit of innovation among SMEs in the region with an emphasis on the empowerment of women in business.

All cooperation plans toward ambitious goals in the Asia Pacific region can only be realized if we have faith in and determination to join efforts to ensure peace and security for the free flow of goods, services, investment, etc.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 24th SME Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM 24) is one of the most important APEC’s ministerial meetings.

I believe that with your participation and strong commitment, Ministers and Heads of Delegations will have active and fruitful discussions, to endorse the 24th SMEMM’s Initiative on Promoting Innovative Start-ups and the Strategy for Green, Sustainable and Innovative SMEs, to be submitted to the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, to navigate the APEC ship toward a bright future of prosperity for our people.

With that spirit, I wish the Meeting great success.

Thank you.