ERIA President Discusses SME Policy at OECD Ministerial Meeting
Paris, 27-28 June 2023: ERIA President Professor Hidetoshi Nishimura, along with ERIA President designate Tetsuya Watanabe, participated in the Ministerial Conference of the OECD Committee for SME and Entrepreneurship, held at the OECD Headquarters in Paris. The OECD Ministerial meeting was chaired by New Zealand and included welcoming and closing remarks by the OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann. Additional members of the ERIA delegation who took part in the meetings included Dr Aladdin Rillo, Senior Economic Advisor, Dr Giulia Ajmone Marsan, Director for Strategy and Partnerships, Mr Fusanori Iwasaki, Director for Policy Research, Mr Daisuke Tsukao, Deputy Director General for ASEAN and East Asian Affairs and Administration, and Dr Keita Oikawa, Economist.
During the inaugural day of the OECD Ministerial Conference, Prof Nishimura discussed the current challenges and opportunities of ASEAN MSMEs. He mentioned how ASEAN MSMEs are the backbone of ASEAN economies, representing between 97% and 99% of firms and between 60% and 80% of total employment across ASEAN countries. He added that some ASEAN countries are among the fastest-growing digital economies in the world and that without sufficient digitalisation of the MSME sector, the digital transformation may be slower and uneven, with growing risks of widening digital divides. These trends demonstrate the imperative need for digital skills for MSMEs in the region. President Nishimura highlighted the importance of inclusive entrepreneurship for the region, particularly targeting women, disability inclusion, as well as the opportunities offered by green entrepreneurship. ERIA is already extensively working on these issues under the Entrepreneurship, Start-Up, and Innovation Knowledge Lab and will scale up these activities under the new Centre for Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy.
On the second day, Dr Aladdin Rillo participated in a breakout session on revisiting broad-based policies from the SME and entrepreneurship perspective, where he shared the ASEAN perspectives on the importance of effective policymaking to address critical policy gaps that affect small enterprises in ASEAN. According to him, it is not enough for policies to be developed; the design, measurement, and implementation of policies are the most important considerations. He also emphasised the role of regional measures in closing the gaps.
While at the OECD Headquarters, the ERIA delegation had bilateral meetings with several OECD Directorates and Units to discuss ongoing and future collaborations on themes including data free flow with trust (DFFT), SMEs and entrepreneurship, digitalisation, global value chains, smart cities, ageing population, and health. The ERIA delegation had the opportunity to discuss some of these themes with the OECD Deputy Secretary-Generals Ulrik Knudsen and Yoshiki Takeuchi.