Bangkok, Thailand – In line with the celebration of International MSME Day on 27 June, the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), the body responsible for strengthening MSMEs’ participation in ASEAN, has recently launched ASEAN Access – a one-stop business information gateway for international-oriented businesses to expand their market outreach within the ASEAN. 

According to ASEAN Organization, intra-ASEAN trade accounts for the largest share of ASEAN’s trade, reaching 22.5% of total merchandise in 2019, indicating a high level of interdependence among the ASEAN Member States. With the ongoing pandemic, many businesses within the region were severely impacted by the drastic reduction in demands for goods and services. However, it was also an opportune moment for accelerating businesses’ digital transformation and diversification of sources. 

The ASEAN Access, with the tagline ‘Your Business Information Gateway to ASEAN and Beyond’, is a portal that aims to facilitate internationalization efforts among MSMEs by providing trade-related information and market opportunities for ASEAN businesses from both suppliers and customer sides, at no cost, for them to make informed decisions before entering a particular ASEAN market.

The platform, which is flagship initiative of the ACCMSME with the support of Thailand’s Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP), and the Federal Government of Germany and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), is designed to connect businesses to service providers in areas of distribution, transportation and logistics, market research, and consultancy on intellectual properties, as well as laws, and regulations, among others.

The team behind the ASEAN Access, comprising the public and private sectors, will be pooling their resources to operationalize and provide services to the portal, including business matching services, which are scheduled to be available by the end of 2021.

ASEAN Economic Community’s Deputy Secretary-General Satvinder Singh welcomed the ASEAN Access as the latest addition to ASEAN’s trade facilitation support for businesses operating in the region. Singh urged the national focal points to actively play their roles to promote, contribute content, and secure quality service providers, ensuring the portal serves its purpose for the ASEAN business community.

Meanwhile, Dato’ Suriani binti Dato’ Ahmad, the chair of ACCMSME and the secretary-general of the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives of Malaysia, noted that the launch of the portal is timely, given the prevalent use of digital platforms among businesses as one of the adaptive measures employed to survive the pandemic.

ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC)’s Chair Dr. Yanty Rahman said, “We should address the need to enhance business to business and people to people interaction through effective engagement and connectivity as our central purpose of recovery efforts must be to serve the needs of the community.”

ASEAN Access also contributes to the implementation of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016–2025, which envisions creating globally competitive MSMEs that are seamlessly integrated into the ASEAN community by focusing on initiatives to promote productivity, technology, and innovation. 

It increases access to finance, enhances market access, and internationalization, as well as enhances policy and regulatory environment, and promotes entrepreneurship and human capital development.