| James Kon |
SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SME) will continue to be the main focus for further growth in the APEC region as outlined in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council’s ABAC 2014 report.
To capitalise on the momentum of SME growth there is a need for Brunei’s SMEs to see the bigger picture and venture out into the global market.
Chief Executive officer of BAG Networks, Dayang Haslina Taib, who is a member of ABAC Brunei said, “We notice that SMEs outside of Brunei think globally, especially in rural urban places like Indonesia or China.
“Therefore for Brunei, the business sector needs to be put on a pedestal. Brunei’s SMEs need to see the bigger picture.
“We are trying to build on our SMEs together and collaborating on cross-border trade through the proper and right approach.”
Touching on cross-border financing for SMEs, she mentioned, “We have completed a new SMEs financing framework. It’s an upgraded version of how SMEs seek financing and access to the market.”
She explained, “We have come up with some recommendations and updated types of financing and funding that will create a lot of interaction with companies across the region. The financing from one country can actually fund a company in another country.
Stressing on the importance of SMEs she said, “We can no longer leave SMEs behind to only be local SMEs. We want them to be international SMEs and gain access to international financing and resources. The idea is to have a better policy to accommodate internalisation of SMEs.”
She added, “This year, Asia Pacific economic growth will only happen when all private sectors get picked up. In my mind, we will be successful if we can work with another country. We need big projects where all of us can be involved in together.”
Regarding training she revealed that recently 13 local SMEs have been to China to back up SME internationalisation initiatives through a better financing framework and training on cross-border trade by taking advantage of electronic mediums.
“Brunei is one of the big supporters of training and ABAC will be bringing in training for SMEs not only in Brunei but also the BIMP-EAGA region.”
The ABAC report highlighted the push of Islamic finance and a concept of profit sharing. A lot of companies are talking to specialised banks that provide asset-backed financing.
There is also a push for a SME funding mechanism that looks at alternative methodologies for financing solutions tailored together with proper governance.
Another member of ABAC Brunei, Director of the LVK Group of Companies, Dayang Hafimi Abdul Haadi, discussed ABAC’s recommendation that Brunei could capitalise on the potential of green growth, saying, “In line with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s aspiration of targeting a 63 per cent reduction in total energy consumption by 2035 at the recent United Nations Climate Summit, Brunei can not only capitalise on this opportunity but can also build a green energy and green growth industry.”
Dayang Haslina Taib added, “Private sectors have a big part in helping to build the foundation towards achieving this target and that can influence Brunei’s market for energy-saving equipment and buildings as well as recycling.”
Regarding the enhancement of connectivity at the APEC level, they also raised the role of capital markets and insurance in funding physical infrastructure to connect the region.
Dayang Hafimi Abdul Haadi said, “Without the physical infrastructure in place, we can’t have an effective flow of trade of goods and services.
“The ABAC report looks at the recommendation of having standardisation in place which will enhance the trade market of member economies due to the ease of access for trade.”