Why is it that so many officials (especially) assume that small businesses only make handicrafts or grow potatoes? Small companies do, of course, create all sorts of fantastic products including handicrafts. But they also do so much more. Even in developing countries and least developed countries, small firms deliver services and create products that can be incredibly sophisticated and complex. The idea that micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) only operate in handicrafts and basic agricultural products warps policy responses. Policy that accommodates just two types of outcomes for smaller firms leaves huge swathes of MSMEs outside policy frameworks. Government ends up crafting programs and solutions to problems that may be completely inappropriate or potentially counterproductive for the majority of firms in the marketplace.
When passed, the European Union (EU) Goods Package, as the legislation is called, will have ramifications to e-commerce that are at least as significant than the move by some countries to reduce or eliminate de minimis thresholds. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who sell online into the EU will be the most severely affected. The added administration and compliance requirements could cost businesses as much as €2,500 annually. This amount could equal the annual margins of some smaller firms that sell online today. Firms from Asia are especially at risk.
As Bloomberg reported yesterday, rising trade tensions have made it more imperative than ever that companies remain engaged in crafting sensible trade and regulatory policies. Getting that job done, however, is unusually challenging in Asia. While there are many excellent organizations at different levels in the region—within some individual countries, across ASEAN and within APEC—what has been lacking is an institutional framework to collectively gather business input from Asia as a whole. Hence the need for a new grouping—the Asia Business Trade Association (ABTA). ABTA is a non-profit society, registered out of Singapore, to unite large and small firms from all across Asia in crafting a collective voice for companies on trade and regulatory issues.