HA NOI (VNS)— The critical role that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can play in Viet Nam's developing economy spurred passionate conversation in a high-level conference organised by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Ha Noi on Monday.
The conference was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Science and Technology and more than 250 other participants, including micro financiers, local and international companies, development agencies and ACCA members.
Topics discussed included current trends in the SME sector development, finance solutions for SMEs, enhancing SME investment and trade capacity, overcoming the challenge of being small and increasing SMEs' competitive capacity by improving access to global markets. Many attendees emphasised that official institutions such as banks, through which these funds and products are often channelled, need to be encouraged to promote them more actively to their SME clients.
"In recent years, the number of new businesses has increased, but they are mainly small, so it is very hard to approach new markets and expand existing ones," said Pham Thi Thu Hang, VCCI's secretary general.
"In this challenging economic context, the issue of having good inventory is a major challenge not only for SMEs, but also for large enterprises. To overcome this difficulty, enterprises should review the whole system of production, distribution, product innovation and innovative technology applications to further participate in the global value chain, exploit the domestic market and enter niche markets. At the same time, enterprises should closely involve themselves in the cluster system and industrial zones and collaborate with other business associations to improve product quality while keeping prices reasonable, thus increasing access to markets."
Le Thi Hong Len, head of ACCA Viet Nam said that Viet Nam's SME sector can play a critical role in the future success of the economy.
"More than 97 per cent of all enterprises in Viet Nam are SMEs and they provide more than half the employment opportunities in the country, which underlines their importance," he said. "Small businesses, because they can act quickly, will also lead the development of the Vietnamese economy, but they face a number of challenges, such as limited access to finances."
Rosana Mirkovic, head of SME Policy at ACCA, said that the problems facing small businesses in Viet Nam were hardly unique. Many other countries also face challenges such as regulation, access to finance and access to cross border trade, she said, and "supporting SME development ought to be an active agenda across government departments".
For example, those departments responsible for fiscal policy, justice or employment law may well have a bigger effect on SME growth and access to finance – through their decisions on tax policy on equity funding, setting up or developing better access to efficient credit information facilities right through to well-functioning property and contract law frameworks, she said. — VNS