Focus on small enterprises : Suharto

Spurring economic growth in Asia and Europe

PRESIDENT Suharto yesterday called for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Asia and Europe to stimulate economic development in both regions.

In a speech opening the three-day Asia-Europe Business Conference here, he said that developing SMEs was also the key to raising the living standards for Asians and Europeans.

“The concern over the need to develop small and medium-sized enterprises should be underlined and intensified,” he told guests attending the opening of the conference at the state palace.

“It will spur expanded employment opportunities in the two regions that will create an increasingly improved well-being and a more solid stability.”

He noted that SMEs faced various limitations, among them, entrepreneurial skills.

“We have to realise that such skills are not yet evenly spread in the community and this is one of the causes of social discrepancies with all its damaging consequences.”

He said Indonesia’s approach to such problems was to forge close partnerships between big, medium and small enterprises.

“The growth of small enterprises will be beneficial to medium-sized enterprises, and the latter’s growth will open new business opportunities for big businesses,” he said.

He noted that the conference, titled “Strengthening the Dynamic Synergy and Partnership of Asia-Europe Interactions”, could come up with ideas and recommendations on ways to overcome problems SMEs faced in capturing capital, technology and markets.

The conference, attended by some 400 participants from 25 countries, will discuss small and medium business partnerships and developing trade and investment links between Asia and Europe.

The President said that the conference was “a golden opportunity” for the business sector, which he identified as “one of the movers of our development in the future”, to forge greater links between Asia and Europe.

“The interaction between businessmen of the two continents is one of the essential endeavours to bridge the perception differences over the historical and business backgrounds of the societies in the two continents,” he said.

Coordinating Minister for Production and Distribution, Mr Hartarto, said in his opening remarks that conference participants could suggest to their governments what needed to be done “to improve the flow of trade and investment” between Asia and Europe.

He said their inputs would be forwarded to Asem economic ministers who are scheduled to meet in Japan this September.

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