A workshop on enabling access to the digital economy of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) was held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 12, as part of the ongoing 24th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting.
Delegates from APEC member economies discussed the digital economy, the importance of the digital economy for MSMEs, and challenges for such enterprises while accessing the digital economy, among others.
According to Michael Mudd, Managing Director of Asia Policy Partners LLC, the digital economy is driven by data. “It is not just about the technology; it is putting data at the centre of the business.”
Mudd also cited statistics that about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human by 2020. In 2016 alone, over 1.5 billion smart phones were sold worldwide, with cameras and sensors capable of collecting all kinds of data.
“MSMEs need to embrace Digital Mobility to attract and retain customers. Privacy and data protection are vital to give customers confidence. In addition, APEC economies need to remove barriers to cross-border trade in data”.
Meanwhile, Ted Tan, Deputy Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore, shared that it is inevitable that enterprises will face disruption from the digital technology.
However, there will be many new opportunities to grow. Increasing connectivity and the growth of the digital economy around the world will result in the opening up of new markets and new opportunities for collaboration.
The digital economy is expected to contribute US$2 trillion of additional economic output globally by 2020, while in the Asia Pacific region, cybersecurity market alone is forecast to reach US$10.5 billion by 2020, he cited.
Lawyer Tran Thanh, Managing Director of Nelson and Partner Lawfirm, said that in the digital economy, there are room for Vietnamese MSMEs to thrive in many fields like services, logistics and especially agriculture.
As one of the world’s leading rice exporters, he held Vietnam could make ultimate use of resources with just small number of labours if it could apply technology in rice preservation and quality improvement.
MSMEs account for over 97% of all enterprises and employ over half of the workforce across APEC economies. MSMEs contribute significantly to economic growth, with MSMEs' share of GDP ranging from 20% to 50% in most APEC economies. However, they account for only 35% or less of direct exports.
Established in 1989, APEC comprises 21 economies, with Vietnam joining in 1998. SMEs employ more than 50% of the workforce and contribute over 40% of the GDP in Vietnam.