the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) launched ASEAN Access, a one-stop business information gateway for international-oriented businesses to expand their market outreach within the ASEAN and beyond.

The launch took of place in commemoration of the upcoming International MSME Day, celebrated every 27 June annually.

Intra-ASEAN trade accounts for the largest share of ASEAN’s trade, reaching 22.5% of total merchandise in 2019, indicating a high level of inter-dependency among ASEAN Member States. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, businesses within the region were severely impacted by the drastic reduction in demands for goods and services. However, it was also an opportune moment for accelerating businesses’ digital transformation and diversification of sources.

Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community Satvinder Singh welcomed the ASEAN Access as the latest addition to ASEAN’s trade facilitation support for businesses operating in the region. He urged the national focal points to actively play their roles to promote, contribute contents, and secure quality service providers to ensure the ASEAN Access serves its purpose for the ASEAN business community.

In her remarks, Dato’ Suriani binti Dato’ Ahmad, Chair of ACCMSME and Secretary-General of the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives of Malaysia, noted that the launch of the ASEAN Access is timely, given the prevalent use of digital platforms among businesses as one of the adaptive measures employed to survive the pandemic.

“Your Business Information Gateway to ASEAN and Beyond”

With the tagline “Your Business Information Gateway to ASEAN and Beyond”, ASEAN Access sets to facilitate internationalisation efforts among MSMEs.

According to Associate Professor Dr. Veerapong Malai, Director General of the Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP), Thailand, it aims to provide trade-related information and market opportunities for ASEAN businesses from both suppliers and customer sides, at no cost, for them to make informed decisions before entering a particular ASEAN market.

To help mitigate the risks of entering a new market, the portal is designed to connect businesses to service providers in areas of distribution, transportation and logistics, market research, and consultancy on intellectual properties, laws and regulations, among others.

The team behind the ASEAN Access, comprising the public and private sectors, would pool their resources to operationalise and provide services to the portal, including business matching services, which is scheduled to be available by the end of 2021.

On her part, Dr. Yanty Rahman, Chair of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), emphasizes the importance of interaction among the business community, and said that “we should address the need to enhance business to business and people to people interaction through effective engagement and connectivity as our central purpose of recovery efforts must be to serve the needs of the community”.

The ASEAN Access is a flagship initiative of the ACCMSME, spearheaded by the OSMEP, Thailand and supported by the Federal Government of Germany and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

It contributes to the implementation of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016 – 2025 which envisions to create globally competitive MSMEs that are seamlessly integrated into the ASEAN community by focusing on initiatives to promote productivity, technology and innovation; increase access to finance, enhance market access and internationalisation; enhance policy and regulatory environment and promote entrepreneurship and human capital development.

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