G20 Entrepreneurship Action Plan

Opening remarks at the Inauguration Ceremony of Entrepreneurship Research Center on G20 Economies

By Mr Tim De Meyer, Director, ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia

Statement | Beijing, China | 11 January 2017
Minister Yin Weimin,
Chairman Chen Xu,
Dean Qian Yingyi,
Dr. Christophe Eick,

On behalf of the International Labour Organization, let me congratulate Tsinghua University on the inauguration of the Entrepreneurship Research Center and thank the organizers for inviting us to this auspicious ceremony.

The Research Centre symbolizes China’s commitment and swift action to give effect to the undertakings by the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers last July. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministers reconfirmed that the creation of more quality jobs remains at the core of the G20 agenda – both as indispensable factor of strong, sustainable and balanced growth and a prerequisite for inclusive, interconnected and sustainable development.

The G20 Entrepreneurship Action Plan underlined the need of G20 economies to redouble their efforts to support a more innovative pattern of inclusive economic growth, with new engines of development and new pathways for job growth.

The Research Centre has now the enviable mission of leading G20 efforts:
  • to promote entrepreneurship education and training;
  • to strengthen services for entrepreneurship;
  • to help entrepreneurs address challenges and sustain business development;
  • to protect the rights and interests of entrepreneurs and their employees.
The ILO has a long history of advocating for sustainable enterprises. Already in 1919, Samuel Gompers, the American trade unionist who chaired the commission drafting the ILO Constitution, said that “the worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit.” An environment conducive to the creation and growth or transformation of enterprises on a sustainable basis – as the ILO understands it – combines the legitimate quest for profit – one of the key drivers of economic growth – with the need for development that respects human dignity, environmental sustainability and decent work. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that entrepreneurs in China should not simply make money, but actively practice socialist core values.

This common idea that the entrepreneurial profit motive is sound but not an end in itself and must be based on values that recognize and serve our common humanity also underlies the 2030 Development Agenda. The SDG Agenda situates entrepreneurship in the context of more and better education and more and better jobs – together with health the top concerns that citizens worldwide identified ahead of the Agenda’s adoption. Target 4.4 eyes a substantial increase in the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. Target 8.3 envisions development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.

China’s private sector counts about 73 million private enterprises and family businesses and drives 60 % of China’s economy. Its fast and sustained growth bears testimony to China’s resolve to give a greater role to market forces in the allocation of resources. The challenge before us is to secure the space for the private sector to offer economic opportunity to everyone, including women and to enhance its ability to support the household income that will drive future economic growth.

My very best personal wishes to all of you and your families as we celebrate the beginning of 2017 and, shortly, the Year of the Rooster. May the auspices of the Rooster, its sharp, practical and resourceful spirit bless you all and guide the Resource Centre on its mission to support innovation and inclusive growth.