At the ERIA RIN Forum in Fukuoka on Feb 1, many issues were elaborated especially those related to regional economic integration and SMEs development strategy in East Asia. High profile politicians and scholars from Japan and 16 institutes from East Asia gathered and shared their perspective.
There is no doubt that economic integration is a matter of survival for both public and private sectors in the region. There is no doubt that SMEs play a crucial role in promoting resilient and inclusive growth, narrowing the development gap, and regional economic integration. However, we still face with structural and conceptual challenges in developing SMEs. Three main issues were emphasized: access to knowledge and information, access to technology, and access to finance. The public sector needs to do more to support SMEs to integrate into a regional production network.
Capacity to change to adapt to new economic environment is necessary. Both public and private sectors need to redirect their mindsets from focusing on local only to regional and global. The world is becoming a single market and production base so we need to prepare and be ready to perform on this new stage.
Japan has great potential to expand its investment in ASEAN through expanding its operation in ASEAN especially in the field of infrastructure development, manufacturing industries, and green technology. Having said that, it also depends on the speed of economic reform of some ASEAN member countries to welcome and accommodate Japanese SMEs. Good governance, transparency, and the respect of intellectual property rights and other legal protection for the investors are necessary.