9. Foreign Trade

Intensify global relations

Globalization and the related toughening of global competition requires a more effective support to and the reinforced political flanking of international activities by small and medium-sized enterprises. The European Union must defend free trade by strengthening the World Trade Organization (WTO), drawing meaningful free trade agreements and act against protectionism as well as product piracy. Globally uniformed rules are decisive for a level playing field in competition, slightly tilted in favour of SMEs.


Our prosperity is largely dependent on the export success of our companies. Free trade and the removal of trade barriers are in our own interest. We call for politics not to give up when it comes to trade agreements with all economic areas in the world. Priority should be given to WTO agreements. That does not exclude bilateral agreements signed by the European Commission. The important element is that the interests of SMEs are respected. Specifically, this means that the Mittelstand is involved in every negotiation phase.

– Overcoming protectionism – removing trade barriers transparently

The European Union should do everything in order that WTO-level negotiations are successful. The negotiations shall not take place behind closed doors. In this way, fierce opposition could be avoided as, for example, those that occurred during trade negotiations with Canada (CETA) and the USA (TTIP). As a positive example we can look at the EU-Japan Agreement (JEFTA), which cut 90 percent of all export duties for EU products.

– Support foreign trade of SMEs

SMEs need tailor-made support in the development of foreign markets. Unlike large companies they do not usually have extensive experiences with bureaucratic procedures and formal requirements such as permits or licenses. The EU’s help through advice, support and trade fair participation is therefore essential for building export activities – especially in States where a difficult environment for investment prevails.

Simplify granting of funds for foreign trade;

European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME demands the concentration of funding to a few institutions, for example a new “EU Foreign Trade and Single Market Agency”. That would save resources for the actual task of supporting companies in the development of foreign business. An efficient coordination of domestic institutions as well as bundling and networking abroad are the keys to success of foreign trade promotion.

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“Europe’s economy lives from global trade. Particularly the relations with our neighbours, partners and countries to which we are traditionally strongly linked in Latin America and Africa must be accessible also for SMEs. Particularly the cooperation with Africa will offer many opportunities and lead to a more sustainable development in this continent of the future.”

Fernando Silva

European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME, Special Envoy for Trade Relations with Africa and Latin America

European Parliament Elections on May 23-26th, 2019

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The biggest confederation of voluntarily associated, small and medium-sized companies in Europe.