President urges ASEAN to invest in small business
President U Thein Sein used the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit to call on his fellow ASEAN leaders to emphasise the development of small and medium enterprise to narrow development gaps and alleviate poverty in their countries.
“In spite of the favourable economy in ASEAN countries, we [ASEAN members] still face challenges. Efforts for poverty alleviation and narrowing the development gap between the ASEAN member states remain issues that need special attention,” said U Thein Sein in his opening address to the summit in Nay Pyi Taw on November 11.
SMEs played an important role in the ASEAN community by enhancing the socio-economic circumstances of the people and balancing economic growth in the region, the President said. “Increased job opportunities and income generation would contribute towards broadening equitable economic development and narrowing the development gap in the region.”
U Thein Sein said this was the rationale behind the decision by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council to make increasing the market competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises one of its prioririties for 2014.
“We are considering how to enhance the roles of young entrepreneurs and women in SMEs as well as the development of technology and vocational education for other workers and farmers,” he said.
The President acknowledged that efforts to narrow the development gap by Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam had seen positive progress because of their manufacturing, trade, investment and service sectors. The total external trade of these countries reached US$312 billion in 2013, an increase of 15.2 percent on 2012, he said.
As a combined economic area, ASEAN has a gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion and is the seventh largest economy in the world. [Ko Ko Gyi ]