EU SMEs willing to export to China have now a new support

European SMEs wishing to export to or invest in the Chinese market can enjoy now a new venture where they will be able to get information, advice, training and matchmaking opportunities. The new Centre for European Union Small and Medium Enterprises in Beijing has been open on 5 November as a key element of the support given by the European Union within the Small Businesses Act for companies looking for opportunities in the Chinese market.

The Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani, inaugurated on 5 November the new Centre for European Union Small and Medium Enterprises (EU SME Centre) in Beijing. This Centre will help European SMEs to overcome challenges they face when operating on the Chinese market, in particular during their early stages of business development.

The Center will contribute to strengthening trade relations between the EU and China, whilst intensifying cooperation and foreign direct investment. It will cooperate with business support organisations based outside Beijing and in particular with the European Enterprise Network (EEN) points being established throughout China, which in the last EEN meeting in Atwertp underlined the role of China as key commercial partner and business destination for European SMEs. The EEN program allows Chinese technology and business support organisations to link up with roughly 600 similar Centres in Europe and other countries and exchange information on business opportunities.

First tendered in December 2008, the EU Centre for support of SMEs in Beijing will be fully operational in January 2011. The Centre will finally be operated by a consortium of European Chambers of Commerce, led by the China-Britain Business Council and including the Benelux, French, German, Italian and Spanish Chambers in Beijing, as well as the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and Eurochambres.

While the primary target group of the EU SME Centre will be European companies, the concept is  also in line with the overall EU-China SME dialogue. The establishment of the EU SME Centre will  promote EU-China trade and investment relations. For instance, matchmaking events sponsored  by the Centre will facilitate partnerships between European and Chinese companies.

Internationalisation, crucial for European SMEs competitiveness

At the moment 25% of European small and medium-sized businesses export, or have exported their goods or services at some point during the past 3 years. This percentage is expected to increase considerably, especially in fast growing markets such as China. However, SMEs are often less well-equipped than large enterprises for dealing with export challenges such as the different legal systems and risks present in foreign markets.

As highlighted by Commissioner Tajani, the launch of the EU SME Centre in Beijing is an important step in the implementation of the Small Business Act, the EU’s main initiative in support of SMEs, and in the realisation of the ‘think small first’ principle that embodies European SME policy. Growth beyond domestic markets and the internationalisation of SMEs is crucial for European competitiveness. The Commission plans to publish a strategy for the internationalisation of European SMEs in 2011.