The Missing (Small) Businesses of Southeast Asia
Schaper, Michael T | July 2020
In 2019, the ASEAN Federation of Accountants proclaimed that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the “backbone” of the regional economy, accounting for most businesses active in the region (Pratama 2019). Theirs is not an isolated claim: many other policymakers, industry advocates and commentators have made similar statements. ASEAN (2020) itself, for example, has stated that SMEs are “… an increasingly important force in ASEAN economic integration.” It is an interesting rhetorical flourish, but is it supported by much data on the public record? Is Southeast Asia really full of small businesses, and if so, how many are there today? In this paper, public data on the number of such firms are examined and collated across the ten economies of the region. A number of trends apparent in the figures are also discussed, as are the shortfalls in data collections, and some suggestions are offered about how this can be improved in future.
CitationSchaper, Michael T. 2020. The Missing (Small) Businesses of Southeast Asia. © ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/12240.
Small Business Finance
Regional Economic Integration
Small to medium sized enterprises
Communication in economic development
Restraint of trade
International economic integration
Economic development projects
Success in business
Separation of powers
Transparency in government