ReportsUsing Social to Go Global

Using Social to Go Global

Maximizing digitally-enabled trade for Indigenous communities

With a stronger and more inclusive global economy, the Asia-Pacific region can advance equity for Indigenous economies thus creating economic growth, supporting jobs, raising incomes, and improving living standards for workers, businesses, and families. This report explores the opportunities and challenges that Indigenous Peoples across select APEC economies face engaging in digitally-enabled trade and the role of social media and other digital tools in their global journeys.

As the host of APEC 2021, New Zealand has prioritized understanding and valuing Indigenous economies, emphasizing that when Indigenous-owned small and medium enterprises succeed, the benefits are passed on to local economies and wider Indigenous communities. The success of Indigenous-owned businesses can enable growth, generate employment, support workers and families, and diversify customers across domestic and export markets. 

Introduction

Using digital technologies to connect with new customers around the world can be critical for the growth and prosperity of Indigenous small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies.

The digital economy is fundamental to resilience, sustainability and inclusion for the region. By increasing digitization, economies can help ensure that trade benefits are spread more widely, leveling the playing field for Indigenous populations.

More than ever, Indigenous SMEs are using social media platforms and other digital tools to combat long-standing challenges and achieve global success. A 2020 survey found that 97 percent of Indigenous Australians use social media, with 62 percent reporting daily use of some form of social media.

Indigenous entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to e-commerce as a way to become financially independent and give back to their communities — creating new jobs and local economic opportunities for others.

By engaging in international trade and expanding into markets overseas, Indigenous SMEs in the region have the potential to grow more rapidly. Digital technologies, and the entire e-commerce ecosystem, generate opportunities for broader Indigenous economic development by connecting those communities with the benefits of the global economy.

The benefits of Indigenous SME success extend far beyond immediate business interests and have wider impacts:

  • Employment opportunities. Beyond providing local, crucial goods and services, Indigenous SMEs act as a significant source of employment and income generation stream for Indigenous Peoples. In Canada, 83 percent of Aboriginal SMEs employ at least one Aboriginal individual from their community.
  • Domestic growth. Indigenous populations in many APEC economies are growing quickly and represent opportunities for greater support and investment to further enable domestic growth outcomes. For example, if the Indigenous Canadian economy were to operate at the same level as the Canadian economy, an additional $3.675 billion would be added to Canada’s GDP.
  • Global inclusive growth. By enabling local economic prosperity and increasing exports, the contributions and benefits of the Indigenous economy can help foster opportunities and equity globally. 

With a stronger and more inclusive global economy, the Asia-Pacific region can advance equity for Indigenous economies thus creating economic growth, supporting jobs, raising incomes, and improving living standards for workers, businesses, and families.

This report explores the opportunities and challenges that Indigenous Peoples across select APEC economies face engaging in digitally-enabled trade and the role of social media and other digital tools in their global journeys. 

 

Small Business Stories

Best Practices

How APEC can support the participation of Indigenous businesses in the global marketplace

Build on existing APEC efforts to understand and elevate Indigenous businesses and prioritize initiatives to increase digital skills and capacity.

Economies have an opportunity to build on recent APEC work on understanding and valuing Indigenous economies, improving data collection, elevating the role of trade in the success of Indigenous businesses, and delivering cohort-based export and digital skills training programs. APEC can take a leadership role in engaging and advancing Indigenous businesses and communities across the region, including by equipping small businesses with tools, information and skills that ensure digital competitiveness and participation in international markets.

Prioritize the participation of Indigenous businesses across APEC’s digital trade and small business workstreams.

APEC should explore opportunities to include Indigenous perspectives in workshops, workstreams and programs throughout its work, including in the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) and Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE). The SMEWG has a unique opportunity to facilitate an exchange among economies about the best practices for trade promotion and small business programs to enable Indigenous entrepreneurship and access to the global economy, and should prioritize the inclusion of Indigenous speakers and participants in future workshops and discussions.

Accelerate momentum for APEC initiatives to strengthen the digital economy.

Economies should continue to expand best practices for digital trade by giving full consideration of the benefits of APEC Pathfinder Initiatives such as the Pathfinder on a Permanent Customs Duty Moratorium on Electronic Transmissions, the Pathfinder on Building Blocks for Facilitating Digital, and the Pathfinder to enhance supply chain connectivity by establishing a baseline de minimis value as well as to new work to facilitate access to non-sensitive Open Government Data. These initiatives are critical to supporting Indigenous businesses and communities by enabling improved access to digitally-enabled global markets and information.

Recognize the importance of improving physical supply chain infrastructure.

Many Indigenous communities in APEC lack access to the supply chain infrastructure that would enable them to fully participate in international trade. Advancing APEC initiatives to modernize customs, improve supply chain connectivity and promote infrastructure investment through public-private partnerships would disproportionately benefit Indigenous businesses and communities.

Encourage digital infrastructure development.

Many Indigenous communities in APEC lack access to the infrastructure that would enable them to fully utilize digital tools. Advancing APEC efforts to improve digital infrastructure and to increase access to next-generation broadband would enhance the ability of Indigenous businesses to participate effectively in broader domestic and global marketplaces.