App challenge targets trade hurdles

Eleven teams of developers from APEC member economies will be in Ha Noi on May 18 and 19 to participate in a 24-hour challenge to build a new mobile or web solution to one or more key challenges faced by medium, small, and microenterprise owners, who want to expand their businesses through cross-border trade.

Workers at a garment and textile company in Thua Thien - Hue.-Photo vietnamnet.vn

The “APEC App Challenge” is a joint initiative by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Asia Foundation and Google.

“Although the Internet has dramatically cut down the exporting costs for SMEs, especially in developed economies, businesses in the region are facing a number of challenges and the benefits from international trade remain elusive,” Lai Viet Anh, Viet Nam E-Commerce and Information Technology’s principle deputy director general, explained. “We hope that these creative young developers will encourage APEC policymakers to learn how to apply technology to some of the real concerns people face when they want to expand their businesses.”

Developer teams are encouraged to think creatively about the challenges faced by local SMEs, the opportunities afforded by online tools and marketplaces and the practicalities associated with developing and implementing their new products.

“The topic of APEC App Challenge is particularly important for the Asia-Pacific region, where SMEs make up some 98 per cent of all businesses and employ two-thirds of the region’s labour force,” The Asia Foundation’s senior director of Digital Media and Technology Programmes John Karr said. “For example, even though Indonesia’s SMEs contribute nearly 60 per cent of GDP, their share of total exports is only 16 per cent.”

“The APEC App Challenge is a unique effort to generate learning and share new ideas across APEC by concurrently building potential solutions to help small businesses overcome existing barriers,” Google Asia Pacific’s head of trade and economic affairs, Andrew Ure observed.

“Ultimately, the goal of the APEC App Challenge is to highlight new ways of promoting inclusive, innovative, and sustainable growth in Asia-Pacific economies and stipulate policies that will promote more innovation to address trade issues,” Alan Bollard, APEC Secretariat’s executive director, added.

Source VNS