Capitalising on Innovation for Exports by the SME Sector
A key question facing Vietnamese policy makers is how to improve the competitiveness of the small and medium enterprises. Among the many initiatives being proposed to improve their competitiveness innovation policy has attracted attention not only from policy makers, but also from researchers and the business community. Innovation in SMEs has also been given special emphasis in a recent declaration in Hanoi by APEC ministers. These initiatives are based on the assumption that innovation can affect a firm's competitiveness and hence export status by increasing productivity (and reducing costs) and by developing new goods for the international market. Improving the export competitiveness of Vietnamese SMEs has become even more pressing given (i) that Vietnam's trade deficit as a percentage of GDP widened significantly to an alarming level of double digit figures in two recent years, 2007 and 2008 and (ii) that the world economic recession has made exporting more challenging due to falling demand. Based on quantitative data analysis and qualitative case-studies, the paper highlights the importance of innovation for the success of Vietnamese firms in their exporting and provides several policy recommendations.
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