MANILA – Eleven member-economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have launched a USD471-billion stimulus package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
According to the APEC Secretariat, while other economies also launched their aid for SMEs, only 11 out 21 APEC members have reported specific amounts for their stimulus package for the sector.
“In the last month, we have seen governments roll out unprecedented fiscal stimulus packages in aid of businesses as a response to equally unprecedented lockdowns on travel and economic activity meant to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” APEC Secretariat Executive Director Rebecca Fatima Sta. Maria said Tuesday.
Sta. Maria added that aside from giving SMEs the support for them to survive during this crisis, governments must introduce policies that would help them thrive in their businesses once they operate again.
She cited specific support introduced by APEC economies for SMEs. These include lending/financing facilities catering exclusively for SMEs; low-interest loans, as well as introducing loan guarantees and loan payment moratoriums; moratoriums on rental and utilities payments; temporary wage subsidies (usually covering up to three months of wages); and tax deferrals and tax refunds.
“As the situation continues to evolve, economies could implement further rounds of stimulus measures, especially targeting SMEs,” Sta. Maria added.
SMEs account for up to 60 percent of the APEC’s gross domestic product and a third of its exports.
They also employ more than 97 percent of the total workforce in the region.
“They employ vulnerable groups, such as women, the youth, and elderly workers, which means giving small businesses a leg up contributes to economic inclusion,” she said.
The 21 APEC member economies are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. (PNA)