The Fourth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Small and Medium Enterprises Technology Conference and Fair (APEC METC, May 18-21) opened today in the port city of Qingdao in east China's Shandong Province.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Tran Trong Toan, executive director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) secretariat, said that SMEs are the backbone of the region's economic growth. SMEs represent 98 percent of all enterprises, 60 percent of private sector jobs, generate 50 percent of sales, 30 percent of direct exports and 10 percent of foreign direct investment, by value.
They are the new drivers of economic development in the region.
APEC METC aims to help SMEs break existing bottlenecks in financing, innovation and marketing, said Yuan Pu, director of the China Center for Business Cooperation and Coordination with China's National Development and Reform Commission, speaking at a press conference yesterday.
"Strengthening the cooperation between SMEs of APEC member states would contribute a great deal to the development of regional economy, enlargement of employment and facilitation of the social development," according to Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan in a letter addressed to conference participants.
With the theme of "Technology Boosts Economy and Cooperation Creates the Future", the event has attracted more than 1,000 domestic and international companies home and abroad, including all 21 members of APEC, the first in APEC METC history.
Twenty-eight national organizations or institutions are exhibiting at the fair, nine more than the previous event. More than 1,100 exhibition booths have been installed, representing a 40 percent increase from the last time.
Top-level executives from about 20 Fortune 500 companies are expected to attend the conference.
In addition to APEC member states, other countries like Germany and Turkey are also participating in the fair. Dr. Andreas Szesny, director of the Qingdao German Service Center for Small and Medium Enterprises, told china.org.cn that his organization has successfully helped several German SMEs with financing issues. He added that his center is a platform for German SMEs that want to enter the Chinese market.
During the event, attendees can also look forward to a forum on Sino-Turkish trade organized by the Turkish-Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association. Nuri Turkees, the association's representative to China, said trade between SMEs from the two countries accounts for more than 50 percent of the total volume of Sino-Turkish trade, and he hopes this fair will increase overall contact between the two countries, not only in economics, but also in culture and other fields.
Representatives from major international companies including Wal-mart from the US, Carrefour and Auchan from France, Metro from Germany, Mitsubishi from Japan, and B&Q from the UK are also hoping to make some huge purchases at the fair.
China now has 3.65 million SMEs and 28 million sole proprietorships, accounting for 99.6 percent of the country's total number of enterprises, and contributing 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and 50 percent of tax revenue, and providing 75 percent of job opportunities nationwide.
APEC METC is sponsored jointly by the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and Qingdao municipal government.
Qingdao held the third APEC METC on June 2-6, 2004, attracting 674 participants, including 126 from 16 APEC members and 548 from 19 domestic provinces and municipalities. Contracts worth US$370 million were signed during the fair.
To boost the development of SMEs in Qingdao, the municipal government established the SMEs Strategy Alliance on May 11, 2006.
Also taking place in Qingdao alongside APEC METC are the Second APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance Forum and APEC E-Commerce Exhibition.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Li Shen, May 18, 2006)