The Department of Commerce has taken advantage of several opportunities to support its commitment to Asia, an important region with some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez visited Brunei this month for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business and Investment Summit . His message to the Summit was that ASEAN remains an important partner to the United States and a key player in the global marketplace.
As ASEAN looks to form an integrated economic community, the United States wants to make sure every nation in the region understands America’s commitment to ASEAN and the broader Asia-Pacific region. The United States and ASEAN are working within the Expanded Economic Engagement framework , designed to expand trade and investment ties and create new business opportunities and jobs in all eleven countries.
The United States and the Commerce Department support the important initiatives ASEAN is taking on to support the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). All governments in the region are actively working to put greater emphasis on protecting intellectual property and enforcing intellectual property rights. This encourages innovation, as it ensures that SMEs will be able to profit from their ideas without worry of them being compromised.
ASEAN has also made strides in adopting standards to facilitate international trade. Standards like WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade  will simplify international business in the region and help SMEs compete internationally.
The Commerce Department has worked closely with ASEAN to support business ethics workshops in Laos and Malaysia to fight corruption. These workshops help national leaders understand how to implement ethical and fair business environments to maximize the ability of SMEs to compete.
Sánchez will again emphasize the importance of SME competitiveness at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)  Ministerial Meetings in Bali. He’ll participate in meetings discussing efforts to promote business ethics in the medical sector, the equal participation of women in business, and SME access to finance.
APEC nations have made great strides on these efforts. All of the nations in the region have shown great strength and leadership in hosting meetings and leading workshops to implement new policies supporting SMEs.
The global economy benefits when SMEs are allowed to compete on a level playing field. As the Asia-Pacific region continues its efforts to support SMEs, the Commerce Department stands ready to partner.