Embracing the Digital Wave and Explore the Blue Ocean of Digital Opportunities

“APEC Policy Dialogue on MSME Marketplace & O2O Forum”, held from 17-18 October in Manila, the Philippines, was organised by Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) of Chinese Taipei and Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines. It engaged with more than 100 delegates, including senior officials from APEC economies, representatives of MNCs, and cross-border e-commerce platform operators, and other key stakeholders to share experiences on how to utilize digital technology to accelerate business growth and strengthen the cooperation among SMEs in APEC region.

Invited speakers discussed critical issues such as the opportunities and challenges facing MSMEs undergoing modernization in their participation in global market and the best path forward to unleash the full potential of SMEs by taking full advantage of digital transformation. 10 SMEs/start-ups from 7 APEC economies also presented to showcase their business plans and share their experiences in utilizing O2O business model to access global markets.

This forum is the last of the 6 serial events listed on the 2nd phase of APEC O2O Initiative “Enhancing SME Digital Competitiveness and Resilience towards Quality Growth” proposed by Chinese Taipei with the Philippines, and Malaysia. The effort made is aligned with APEC’s promotion of cross-economy collaboration and fostering innovative growth through public-private partnership. Abundant resources are made available to SMEs to promote innovations that drive economic growth in this initiative. The cross-economy collaboration is expected to increase the utilization of O2O business model, encourage member economies to promote business innovation and connectivity, and shape highly impactful businesses through digital transformation to enhance global connectivity among MSMEs in the Asia-Pacific region.

O2O Business Model Drives SMEs towards Digital Transformation and Quality Growth

The forum began with opening remarks delivered by Deputy Director General Ms. Pei-Ti Hu of the SMEA, MOEA and Mr. Jerry Clavesillas, Director, Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, the Philippines, followed by the insightful keynote speech addressed by Ms. Zenaida Cuison-Maglaya, Undersecretary of Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippines. Ms. Hu began by expressing her gratitude to member economies for their supports and to the Philippines for their outstanding contributions to the organization of the event. “The Internet and digital economy has brought on radical changes to the world. It has sparked many disruptive innovations that reshape people’s daily lives, as well as business models”, continued Ms. Hu, pointing out that the development of the Internet and digital economy have inspired countless innovations, significantly changing not only our daily lives and business models but also the environment in which SMEs operate.

The key to help businesses to unleash their full potential and drive business innovation is to guide SMEs to fully grasp the opportunities and minimize the challenges in the digital era. Therefore, Chinese Taipei remains committed to the APEC O2O Initiative to lead SMEs to strengthen their digital competitiveness and resilience, and assist SMEs towards sustainable, innovative, inclusive and quality growth, seize the opportunities in the digital era, and embrace the digital wave.

The first day of the forum was organized in 3 sessions, featured a “Policy Dialogue”, “Innovative Dialogue”, and ended with a “Showcase Session”. In the first session, Mr. Mark Joseph Panganiban, Executive Director of Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines, and representatives of private businesses discussed the opportunities and challenges facing APEC MSMEs in their participation in global market. Promising start-ups share experiences on how they successfully utilizing the O2O model to explore the global marketplace in “Innovative Dialogue”. In the last session, Mr. Volker Heistermann, Managing Director of Yushan Ventures hosted a board meeting with ten SMEs/start-ups from seven APEC economies—Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Thailand, Russia, Singapore, the Philippines, and the United States. The board members provided guidance and suggestions for start-ups that presented their business plans in the meeting. The top performing team is to be invited to attend 11 O2O serial events scheduled for next year in Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, and Taipei.

Digital Transformation Stimulates the Southeast Asia Startup Ecosystem and Creates a Shared Future in Asia Pacific

In 2018, Chinese Taipei will continuingly work with the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand on implementing the third phase of the O2O Initiative. In addition to current partners such as ABAC, EPWG, HRDWG and PPWE, efforts will also be made to collaborate with MNCs and e-commerce platform operators. 11 O2O forums and training workshops aiming to enhance digital resilience are to be held in Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and Brunei. The implementation of the 11 serial events is expected to spread the benefits of digital transformation, stimulate the start-up ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region, prepare SMEs to fight against cyber threats, and create a shared digital future for all APEC member economies.