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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Discusses Small Business Competitiveness at APEC Green Growth Forum, Meets with APEC Trade Ministers

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meetings in Big Sky, Montana will focus on trade, small business growth in the lead up to APEC 2011 in Honolulu

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today delivered keynote remarks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Enhancing Competitiveness through Green Growth Forum in advance of this week’s APEC 2011 SME Ministerial Meeting.  The goal of this year's APEC meetings is to strengthen economic integration and expand trade, expand regulatory cooperation and promote green growth. During his remarks, Locke urged small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the Asia-Pacific region to incorporate green growth strategies into their business development plans to increase their global competitiveness.

“Green growth is more than just a solar company or a wind turbine plant, it’s an entirely new way of economic growth,” said Locke.  “It should be a central focus of the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses.  Through these meetings, APEC will work to create a supportive environment that can stimulate innovation and foster green growth for years to come.”

The Competitiveness and Green Growth Forum provided an opportunity to discuss ways to help APEC economies incorporate green growth policies into the business development plans of SMEs.  The Forum also paved the groundwork for the APEC SME Ministers’ discussions on green growth-focused technical and financial assistance programs for SMEs.

During the APEC meetings, Locke also met with private sector leaders and trade ministers of the APEC economies. Among his meetings with private sector leaders, Locke hosted a luncheon with CEOs of U.S. businesses to discuss the importance of SMEs in the global supply chain for large American companies and the critical role SMEs play in bringing innovative products and services to the marketplace. They also discussed market access issues and challenges that companies face while doing business in the Asia-Pacific region.

Locke also held a series of one-on-one discussions with trade ministers from New Zealand, Vietnam, and the Philippines to raise market access issues and discuss goals for the ministerial meetings.

The Secretary joined U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) for a meeting with Montana-based Native American business leaders to discuss ways in which the federal government can help their businesses grow through various economic development programs, including those administered by the Commerce Department.

The APEC SME Ministerial is held annually by the APEC host economy to advance APEC's support for micro, small, and medium enterprises that comprise the majority of businesses in all 21 APEC member economies. This year’s meeting has the highest level of private sector engagement from APEC economies to date.  The objective of the SME Ministerial and related meetings is to encourage the development of SMEs and to build their capacity to engage in international trade.