UNESCAP organised its flagship regional business forum - Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF) 2017 to provide an effective annual platform for regional public-private sector dialogue on the role and needs of business in achieving inclusive, resilient and sustainable development.
Under the theme “Regional Integration to Achieve Sustainable Development”, 2017 Forum was organized in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Bangladesh Chapter.
The forum was attended by more than 500 high-level professionals from both the public and private sector participated including Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Dr. Victor K. Fung, Former Global Chairman of ICC and Chairman of Fung Group; ministers from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Many policy-makers, business representatives, international agencies, civil society organizations and academics presented their views on the relevant issues.
The two-day conference was highlighted by panel discussions and business sessions where participants discussed the role of business in sustainable development with an emphasis on the inclusive and sustainable trade and investment and capacity building through science, technology and innovation, empowering the SME sector etc.
Ms. Sampa Banerjee, Executive Director, WASME and Ms. Archana Sharma, Head Communications, WASME attended the Asia Pacific Business Forum and deliberated the effective role that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can play in regional integration for sustainable development, the various challenges faced by them along with appropriate solutions .
Ms. Sampa Banerjee was the panellist speaker for Business session on February 9, 2017 on “Supporting and Empowering Disadvantaged MSMEs to Become More Competitive and Sustainable”. The session was to identify the answers of three questions :
• What are the main difficulties for MSMEs’ effective participation in regional & global value chains?
• How can international investors better connect with MSMEs, helping them be more sustainable?
• How can the governments and business associations promote the development of MSMEs through technology and innovation development?
In her address she pointed “goal of Inclusive industry as one of the SDGs is extremely important. Considering the contribution provided by the SME sector in every country’s economy, poverty alleviation, employment generation, there is need to empower SMEs to be part of global value chain by focusing on strengthening and promoting grassroot level enterprises as they are the ones need lots of support for right information, assistance, technology and skill upgradation to be able to integrate themselves with the regional value chain”.She also added that among other galaxy of complexities, some of the major hindrances for SMEs to be able to actively engage in regional and global value chain and thus in contributing to the sustainable development of region are delay payments, obsolete and in-efficient technologies, insufficient use of ICT, lack of readiness to adopt international standards and compliances and skill gap.
The other panellist speakers included Mr. Yassin Al Suroor, Chairman of ICC Saudi Arabia, Mrs. Rokia Afzal Rahman, Vice President, ICC Bangladesh and Chairman, Arlinks Limited, Mr. Philip Kucharski, Chief Operating Officer, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Prof. Ken Yan Cheng Pan, President, Trade & Industry Association (Singapore), Dr. Sandro Calvani, Senior Adviser on Strategic Planning, Mae Fah Luang Foundation, Thailand, Dr. Momtaz Uddin Ahmed, Director, SME Foundation and Honourary Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka.