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Asean SMEs urged to to venture into online trading

[ 07-09-2015 ]
Asean SMEs urged to to venture into online trading
KUALA LUMPUR: Asean small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been urged to venture into e-commerce or online trading to extend the reach of their products or services.

ASEAN Business Advisory Council chairman Tan Sri Munir Majid said this was the future and that currently in Asean only 1% of the total retail business turnover was being conducted via the Internet. In most developed economies, he added, online trading was at 9%.

"There is potential growth for the sector if e-commerce is used as the medium to do business," Munir said. "However, there are certain things that must be addressed, such as having an e-commerce payment system, as well as good logistics services."

"E-commerce is something that must be paid for and there has to be a standard system to facilitate the retail industry," he told Bernama on the sidelines of the 14th Meeting of the High-Level Task Force on the Asean Economic Integration Working Group on Post-2015 here on Friday.

According to Munir, as SMEs are the backbone of the economies of Asean member states, comprising up to 97% of the working population in some, it is vital to have a concrete plan for them and stick to it.

"We must ensure the plan works as otherwise, they (SMEs) will turn away from the Asean integration process and this will impact the national economies and the region as a whole," he said.

He also said that SMEs were the most impacted by the lower prices of crude palm oil (CPO) and rubber, especially those from the three biggest producer countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

"With the lower prices for CPO and rubber, the three countries will contribute less to South-East Asia's collective gross domestic product by 2025," Munir added.

He highlighted the need for SMEs to be exposed to strong competition and having the online trading platform is an advantage for them.

There will be an SME Masterplan in November, which includes the setting up of an Asean finance digital platform for SMEs.

"We must give SMEs the chance to compete, hence the emphasis on access to finance.

"They can use this available technology to upgrade technology of their own in improving the management system and linking up to the supply chain where the growth is," Munir said.

The Asean Economic Community (AEC), with a population of more than 600 million and a combined gross domestic product approaching US$3 trillion, would emerge as a single market and the seventh largest economy globally. It is predicted to become the fourth largest market by 2050. - Bernama