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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role as a driving force in economies around the world, especially in Asia. SMEs in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region are estimated to comprise more than 98% of the total number of enterprises, and they contribute to around 40% of gross domestic product.
By Danilo Valerio Mascia. Posted May 20, 2018
It is widely accepted that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent the backbone of most economies. Not surprisingly, the story is mostly the same across the globe. For instance, Yoshino and Taghizadeh-Hesary (2014) report that SMEs account for almost 98% of all enterprises in Asia, offering jobs to around 66% of the workforce. In the European Union, the data offer a similar picture. In fact, SMEs represent 99% of all non-financial enterprises and account, on average, for 67% of total employment (European Commission 2017). Overall, such figures undoubtedly highlight how pivotal SMEs are for the functioning of the real economy.
By Ayumi Konishi. Posted August 1, 2017
One of the most daunting challenges for the countries participating in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program is how to create decent, sustainable jobs. For far too long, many CAREC countries have relied on the capital-intensive extractives sector to drive their economic growth. However, the slowing down of the global economic growth and reduced commodity prices resulted in the substantial increase in unemployment, especially among the youth.
Economic growth in both developing and advanced economies has slowed since the global financial crisis. Developing Asia’s growth also moderated after the crisis, to a large extent driven by the slowdown in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The region’s economy expanded on average 7.6% annually during 2001–2010, but growth slowed to an annual average of 6.5% during 2011–2015. ADB is projecting further deceleration to 5.7% in each 2016 and 2017.
By Ganeshan Wignaraja. Posted April 21, 2016
There seems to be a pushback against trade agreements in the post global financial crisis era. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed in early 2016, but US presidential candidates have spared no effort criticizing it so near-term ratification is highly uncertain. The WTO Doha Round is in the deep freeze after 14 years of negotiations. Unilateral trade liberalization has virtually come to a standstill.
By Ganeshan Wignaraja. Posted December 16, 2015
At this week’s 10th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, trade ministers are trying to advance 15 years of Doha Development Agenda talks to reduce trade barriers. The real issue, however, is whether African economies can follow East Asia's success in global supply chains amid “new normal" growth and rising inequality.
By Ganeshan Wignaraja. Posted October 6, 2015
Concerns about moderating economic growth and rising income inequality in ASEAN economies have brought small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the policy limelight. Arguing that SMEs have significant potential for creating jobs, some commentators are suggesting a host of industrial policies such as financial subsidies and local content rules to promote SMEs. However, government failure may result from heavy-handed state intervention for SMEs.
Considering the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for employment and GDP and the number of such firms in Asian countries, further efforts need to be made to offer SMEs access to finance. Asian economies are often characterized as having bank-dominated financial systems and underdeveloped capital markets, and as a result, banks are the main source of financing for SMEs.
This article assesses the case for promoting financial education in Asia. It argues that the benefits of investing in financial education can be substantial. Data are limited, but indicate low financial literacy scores for selected Asian countries. As economies develop, access to financial products and services will increase, but households and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to be able to use the products and services wisely and effectively. More effective management of savings and investment can contribute to overall economic growth. Moreover, as societies age and fiscal resources become stretched, households will become increasingly responsible for their own retirement planning. Asia’s evolving experience suggests that more national surveys of financial literacy are needed and that coherent, tailored national strategies for financial education are essential for success.
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