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EU/US transatlantic cooperation: Help SMEs go international Published on: 04/12/2012

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Supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU and US to access markets on the other side of the Atlantic is the central topic of the fourth EU-US SME Workshop, in Washington DC, on 3 and 4 December 2012.

At the meeting a Memorandum of Understanding on promoting cooperation between the business support networks Enterprise Europe Network and International Trade Administration was signed today. Specific areas for cooperation include the promotion of SME events and business partnering activities, participation in sectoral or thematic seminars and the exchange of information on SME networking opportunities. SMEs on both sites will profit in the areas of business matchmaking, technology brokerage, and innovation management. 

Director General of the European Commission DG Enterprise, Daniel Calleja Crespo, said:  "We must think jointly how to help SMEs tapping more fully the economic potential of the global market. If you are "international" you grow faster, you increase employment faster and pay higher wages than non-exporting SME firms." 

The EU-US workshop follows on from the objectives described in the Letter of Intent signed by European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Acting Secretary of Commerce Blank in May 2012.  

EU/US exchange views on a modern SME policy  

Other topics discussed at meeting addressed policies to support SMEs: 

  1. Crowd funding promising in improving access to finance: Financing new investments is a joint problem of SMEs on both sides. In this context special focus was given to the new crowd financing whereby investors undertake a collective effort in networking and pooling their resources via the Internet. Crowd funding is increasingly used for start-up company funding, inventions development and scientific research. Initial talks were held in order to share views on how the crowd funding market needs to be regulated and how can crowd funding interact with other relevant markets such as business angels and formal venture capital. 
  2. Improved information on standards for products on the other side of the Atlantic: Both sides are exploring the option of a web-based one stop shop, which would inform about relevant standards for market access to certain product groups, entering either the US or the EU market following the successful EU China standard web portal CESIP. Also options for reinforced co-operation on intellectual property rights (IPR) were discussed. 
  3. Promoting entrepreneurship to incite more Europeans and Americans to become their own boss. Discussions highlighted existing programs targeting youth and women SMEs. The U.S. provided an overview on its Start Young Program and background on its Women Business Center Program and its support of 50+ women entrepreneurs.

Role and mapping of clusters: Also policies to promote SMEs by providing them a joint infrastructure (ICT, research, financing and IPR) in clusters were discussed, such as by the European Cluster Alliance

Background - Scale of EU/US commercial and investment transatlantic contacts

On both sides of the Atlantic, SMEs account for much more than 90% of the total number of businesses. The similarities are striking in contribution to innovation, turnover and employment (2/3 of new employment in the U.S. in the last 15 years generated by SMEs). 

  • In goods and services: EU and US are mutually the biggest trading partners with more than €650 billion of annual trade, or €1.8 billion per day.
  • The EU goods exported to the US are about three times higher than those to China and seven times more than to Japan.
  • The overall investments in stocks are above € 2 trillion
  • 15 million jobs are linked to the transatlantic economy.
  • Total US investments in the EU are three times higher than in all of Asia while EU investment in the US is eight times higher than our investment in India and China together.  

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