How to Support European SMEs Active in International Trade?
Friday, October 7th, 2016
According to the data of the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission, there are more than 750.000 European companies that exported goods beyond the borders of the European Union. About 600.000 of these companies are small and medium-sized businesses. This is 80% of the total of European firms exporting goods abroad which is only a part of the SMEs commercially active in markets outside of Europe, as that would also include service providers, and which, it should be noted, it still only amounts to 13% of the SMEs of Europe. However the successful business practice of these relatively few SMEs shows that it is possible for this type of companies to successfully engage actively beyond Europe but it is also clear that they require a certain and economic framework to support them.
Also according to DG Trade, the main legal and bureaucratic obstacles faced by SMEs in doing business abroad are not necessarily tariffs for export, as these costs can be covered by adequate commercial activities, but all the additional costs that are part of engaging in a market regulated by different legal standards. For example, foreign technical standards, difficult licensing procedures, complex custom procedures, and lack of enforcement for intellectual property rights. These hurdles tcan often be overcome through international agreements on practices, tariffs and standards, such as Free trade Agreements, though those are not always successful in helping SMEs.
SMEs can also work together with fellow companies to form a strong network that would allow them to be more prepared and more capable to act at international level. As SMEs in Europe are all active in the Single Market, they can form these alliances across European borders. MobiliseSME pilot scheme for the exchange of employees for small and medium-sized enterprises is one way to start building these alliances. For this purpose, we will soon announce our online matchmaking platform to enable SMEs to join in this scheme and benefit from all its features, including the possibility to build a wider and deeper business network across Europe.