Commission opens gateway to China for European small and medium size enterprises

Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, has launched the Centre for European Union Small and Medium Enterprises (EU SME Centre) in Beijing on 5 November. Funded by the European Commission, this new venture will provide information, advice, training and matchmaking opportunities for European SMEs wishing to export to or invest in the Chinese market.

At the launch of the EU SME Centre Vice-President Tajani said: “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, and the Commission has a significant role to play as a facilitator of this process.” The Small Business Act called for the establishment of European Business Centres in selected markets, notably in China and India.

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 for example with the different legal systems and risks present in foreign markets.

The EU SME Centre will help European SMEs overcome challenges they face when operating on the Chinese market, in particular during their early stages of business development. SMEs can turn to the Centre for information on topics such as the procedure regarding company registrations in China, employment contracts for recruiting locally or the process of certifying technical standards.

The Centre will contribute to strengthening trade relations between the EU and China, whilst intensifying cooperation and foreign direct investment. In this context, it should be underlined that the capacity to build on the growth and innovation potential of SMEs is decisive for future EU-China trade relations. This is why such great importance is placed on the EU-China SME policy dialogue, which took place most recently on 16 September 2010 in Guangzhou.

The Centre will 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. It will cooperate with business support organisations based outside Beijing and in particular with the European Enterprise Network (EEN) points being established throughout China. 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. The Centre will be fully operational in January 2011.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China as well as the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade attended the launching ceremony.

The Commission plans to publish a strategy for the internationalisation of European SMEs in 2011.

Further information on European SME policy:

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