APEC boosts SMEs’ competitiveness through health ethics pacts

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By APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group

BANGKOK, Thailand – APEC is ramping up efforts to strengthen the competitiveness of the region’s small businesses in the health sector through the expansion of public-private business ethics pacts.

The Business Ethics for APEC SMEs initiative aims to further help small businesses address risks, such as corruption across the health ecosystem, while encouraging them to share best practices, partner with governments to promote ethical business conduct, as well as engage in multi-stakeholder collaboration.

“Micro, small and medium enterprises in the medical device and biopharmaceutical industries played crucial role during the height of the pandemic, ensuring availability of products and services despite the disruptions and challenges,” said Norlela Suhailee, the Chair of the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group.

“Our small businesses need a transparent and predictable operating environment to deliver lifesaving products, to develop innovative solutions for the future, to operate sustainably and continue their engagement in cross-border trade.” she added.

At the 2022 APEC Business Ethics for SMEs Forum, held on 12-13 September in Bangkok, industry associations representing thousands of small businesses in the medical technology and biopharmaceutical sectors joined government, patient organizations, and healthcare providers to contribute to a guide to help stakeholders from member economies coalesce around the implementation of ethics pacts.

There are currently 11 agreements for ethical collaboration, which bring together more than 300 organizations representing tens of thousands of small businesses as well as healthcare professionals and patients.

Participants at the forum provided their inputs to the guide, contributing to the development of a suite of resources and best practices to bolster ethical collaboration, including effective governance, operations, communications and sustainability. The new resource guide will be published next year in collaboration with the Basel Institute on Governance.

“It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that the region’s health economy is vibrant, innovative, competitive and free of corruption – to foster sustainable growth and to best serve the billions of patients across our markets,” said Marisa Lago, Undersecretary of International Trade at the US Department of Commerce, which oversees the initiative.

“Consensus frameworks have the power to unite diverse stakeholders with disparate interests to expand the possibilities of ethical business practices in a given economy,” Lago explained.

Consensus frameworks are critical to advancing ethical business conduct to support small businesses within health systems, and represent each economy’s commitment to strengthening multi-stakeholder collaboration. This includes adherence to rules within respective health systems and alignment of ethical principles across diverse stakeholders.

“Consensus frameworks are voluntary agreements that set the table for building trust across health systems – bringing together diverse stakeholders to simultaneously elevate standards of integrity,” said Thomas Cueni, Director General of International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

“With a mission to improve standards of governance, the forum’s outcomes well position APEC economies for continued growth and success in ethical collaboration in the health sector and in support of high-quality patient care,” he concluded.

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