By Dr. Karen M. Reddington, president, FedEx Express Asia Pacific
Is it unrealistic for us to expect small business to go global from day one? Not if we have the right policies in place.
In the 21st century, businesses don’t need to be big to go global. Today, all they need is a mobile device, a shipping platform and a big idea. Even the smallest business has access to communications and technology tools that were beyond the reach of even large companies just 15 years ago, and SMEs are increasingly eyeing the possibilities of export markets.
Right now, Asia is a hotbed of opportunity for these SMEs. Yet not enough of them are taking the plunge into regional, let alone global, markets.
So what can we do differently? What is the right focus for change?
At FedEx, we strongly believe that we cannot have trade expansion without smart policy – and without creating a whole ecosystem of support around small business.
It is not enough to just invest in small business itself – we need to invest in systems change, and in the way trade itself operates.
Already, the focus on small business is far-reaching. ASEAN and the Asian Development Bank are among organizations working to create the right conditions, and the right scaffolding, for small business to grow on the world stage.
So the question really is: At a time when e-commerce is driving huge change, is it easier for small business to go global than it’s ever been? To trade beyond any one economy’s borders?
The answer of course, is yes – as long as we actively work to promote innovation in regulation itself. This includes:
- Raising the de minimis level – the threshold at which customs duties and taxes are applied
- Speeding up and improving electronic trading systems, as countries such as Singapore has done
- Simplifying e-commerce trade, so SMEs can get on with the business of growing their business globally, without being distracted by large amounts of documentary compliance or customs delays
This requires a change in mindset on the part of many regional institutions, governments and corporations. For it’s not just industries and companies that need to innovate – it’s also regulation itself.
Only then will we have a truly supportive and productive global trading environment for SMEs.
Karen Reddington is President of Asia Pacific Division of FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company. In this role, which Dr. Reddington took up in January 2015, she heads up Asia Pacific from its headquarters in Hong Kong. The Asia Pacific Division comprises three regions: North Pacific, based in Tokyo; China, based in Shanghai; and South Pacific, based in Singapore. Dr. Reddington is responsible for leading the FedEx business across the region, including overall planning and implementation of corporate strategies and operations across 30 countries and territories with more than 18,000 employees.