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A green light for the Asia-Pacific business community – Tradeworks

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Senior
Asia-Pacific business representatives, meeting in the APEC Business Advisory
Council under Chile’s dynamic leadership this year, are committed to achieving
inclusive and sustainable growth. 
The digital economy is clearly going to be a key enabler, and Chile is
developing two exciting initiatives – a start-up competition and a digital
marketplace – that could help to unlock some of the potential for New Zealand
SMEs.

Chile’s
priorities for APEC and ABAC this year focus on “inclusive and collaborative
growth in the digital era” – topics on which ABAC New Zealand members Phil
O’Reilly and Tenby Powell have likewise been playing an active role in ABAC, and which will be a significant focus
for the Council’s upcoming meeting in Hangzhou from 22 to 25 July, as ABAC
members start to prepare for their annual “Dialogue” with APEC Economic Leaders
in mid-November. 

“Hosting APEC and ABAC (as New Zealand will have its own opportunity to do in 2021) provides an excellent opportunity to take forward smart ideas for the region”

Avoiding the stop signs

Finding new
ways to unlock economic potential in the region, especially for small businesses
and small economies, becomes all the more important as the trade war grinds on,
accelerating the dismal trend towards protectionism that has emerged in the
aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, as is compellingly detailed in this recent report.  Small, outward-looking economies like Chile and New Zealand
are renowned both for their commitment to open markets and for their creative
thinking about how to get there, and hosting APEC and ABAC (as New Zealand
will have its own opportunity to do in 2021) provides an excellent opportunity
to take forward smart ideas for the region.

ABAC Chile seeking to broaden and deepen networks

Against
that backdrop, ABAC Executive Director Loreto Leyton of the Chile Pacific
Foundation, is in town this week to deepen connections with New Zealand.  Her visit – sponsored by the Latin
America Centre for Asia-Pacific Excellence – was primarily to speak at Tuesday’s
‘Building the Southern Link
Conference’
(an initiative aimed at turbo-charging connectivity between China, New Zealand
and South America), but also includes events in Auckland and in Wellington on Friday to brief the business, academic and
policy community on ABAC Chile’s goals for this year.

A green light for SMEs in the digital economy

During her
Auckland presentation, Loreto highlighted two ABAC Chile initiatives which seek
to create tangible new opportunities for SMEs: an ‘APEC Start-Up Challenge’ and
the ‘MondeB2B’ digital marketplace.

At the starting line…

The APEC
Start-Up Challenge provides an opportunity for three or four outstanding
entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to business leaders at an APEC SME Summit on
14 November in Santiago.  The
challenge theme is on the circular economy and digitization, but the
competition is open to virtually any sector and type of business, including for
example, businesses focused on sustainability and environmental goods and
services, logistics, monitoring systems, and frontier technologies such as AI
and the Internet of Things.  More
information will be posted on the www.tradeworks.org.nz website shortly.

…ready, set, go

The ‘APEC
MondeB2B Platform’, on the other hand, has been designed to help solve some of
the formidable challenges SMEs face in globalising (a topic on which readers
may recall ABAC NZ’s Tenby Powell led a major research project in ABAC last year), including for
example around visibility and networks, fragmentation of export efforts, high
trade costs and issues around online trust and consumer protection.  The new MondeB2B platform is intended
to provide a safe, business-friendly environment for SMEs to connect and do
business.  The platform is at the
trial phase involving a handful of South American and South-East Asian
economies and does not yet include New Zealand, but work is underway to broaden
it throughout the APEC region and onboard other economies.

Keep on trucking

These great
initiatives offer some exciting new practical possibilities for New Zealand
firms.  But they also show that
many in the Asia-Pacific are keen to keep the region moving forward – no road
rage necessary.

This
post has been prepared by NZIBF Associate Director and ABAC New Zealand policy
advisor Stephanie Honey.  

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