VP Robredo pushes for more inclusive Southeast Asia MSME business environment

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VP_Robredo_ASEAN_ABIS_2017_TESTAVice President Maria Leonor Robredo. Photographed by Bernard Testa, News5 | InterAksyon

MANILA – Vice President Leni Robredo underscored on Tuesday the necessity of creating an inclusive business environment in the Southeast Asian region, with focus, in particular, on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, Robredo noted that the regional bloc’s “decision to put prosperity for all at the center of our conversations is timely and critical at this point.”

“For too long, the world has treated micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises with casual concern, their small economic footprint keeping them in the little boy’s room, unable to participate in the global discussions. But if we are to solve inequality, we must ensure that MSMEs benefit from unclogged value chains, fair trade, and peace,” she said.

The vision of a single market, she added – allowing people, goods, and services “to move freely across our borders” – will benefit MSMEs most of all. She added that efforts must be put in place to ease the difficulties posed by non-trade measures and non-trade barriers on businesses looking to cross borders.

In this regard, VP Leni lauded the private sector in helping provide solutions “through inclusive business models.”

“Many of you here are responding to the call of the times by opening up your value chains to smallholders, micro and small businesses. You spend your resources and time to improve their processes and their products. You are empowering many of those who have been left behind by progress and globalization: farmers, fishermen, women, and even indigenous peoples. Truly, the power of the entrepreneurial spirit can move our world,” she said.

It is a high time to pursue this initiative, she said, as ASEAN as a regional bloc stands as the sixth-largest economy in the world, with a combined gross domestic product of US$2.55 trillion.

“But the best is yet to come. This is the age of Asia. Let the dragons and the tigers claim this century, and in the process, show the world how it is possible for our economies to grow wealth and spread it equitably,” she said.