APEC SME Business Forum 2001 Opens in Shanghai

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) Business Forum 2001 opened at the International Convention Center in Pudong, Shanghai, Monday.

More than 1,200 people from 20 APEC members, delegates to the 13th working group meeting of the 8th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting (APEC SME), and officials from China's State Economic and Trade Commission and the Shanghai Municipal Government attended the opening ceremony.

Since small and medium-sized enterprises play an important role in the APEC member economies, the APEC SME Business Forum has drawn wide attention. The forum is one of the large-sized activities involving enterprises during a series of APEC meetings this year.

The theme of the forum is New Century, New Challenges -- Innovation and Development Environment. The forum also has three sub-themes: Advancing Innovation, Facilitating Financing and Developing Service Organization.

Under the main theme and the sub-themes, the forum will focus on topics of common concern such as SMEs and innovation, the high technology-backed development of SMEs, challenges SMEs are faced with in the new century, the development environment for SMEs, and facilitating financing and venture enterprises.

A total of 34 representatives from 18 APEC member economies, Finland and the Netherlands will give speeches on these topics at the forum.

Li Rongrong, chairman of the 8th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting and minister in charge of China's State Economic and Trade Commission, said at the opening ceremony that it is insightful for APEC to take SMEs as the focus of attention as the rapid economic globalization has brought about both opportunities and challenges in their road of development.

SMEs in China and other parts of the world are facing similar problems for further development, such as obsolete technology, restrained financing ability and lack of talented people, he said, adding that the Chinese government is to take effective measures to resolve these problems.

Under the APEC principles of involvement by enterprises, a dialogue between the ministers in charge of SMEs participating in the 8th APEC SME ministerial meeting and the business leaders will be held at the forum.

Business talks on economic and technological cooperation will also be organized during the five-day forum. Some 132 Chinese enterprises and 60 enterprises from other APEC member economies have applied to attend the talks.

Earlier Monday, an APEC SME Exhibition was launched at Shanghai 's International Convention Center. The four-day exhibition, by photographs and other multimedia means, is aimed at showcasing the achievements of the SMEs of the APEC members and facilitating the exchange of experiences among them.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Shanghai Mayor Xu Kuangdi said that SMEs have become a major force for the economic growth of Shanghai. They are playing an increasingly important role in restructuring the economy, optimizing the industrial layout and promoting innovation.

He expressed the belief that the exhibition will help create a favorable environment for the development of SMEs in the Asia- Pacific region and promoting the common prosperity of all APEC members.

(Xinhua News Agency 08/28/2001)

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