European Commission Vice-President Tajani launches the EU SME Centre in China

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

Today, 25% of small and medium-sized businesses in the EU export or have exported at some point during the last 3 years, a share which is expected to increase considerably, especially in fast growing markets like China. SMEs are often less well-equipped than large enterprises to deal with a different legal environment, standards and risks in foreign markets.

The EU SMEs Centre will help European SMEs overcome challenges they face when operating on the Chinese market, in particular at their early stages of business development. SMEs can among others turn to the Centre for information on the forms of company registrations in China, the type of employment contracts for recruiting locally or the process of certifying technical standards. The Centre will highlight areas of opportunities for EU SME’s in China and help them do business in the Chinese regulatory environment.

On the EU SME Centre Vice-President Tajani said: "The European Union’s major initiative supporting SMEs, the so called Small Business Act, called for the establishment of European Business Centres in selected markets, starting with India and China. I am honoured to launch the EU SME Centre in Beijing.”

The Centre will contribute to strengthening EU-China economic and trade relations, while expanding cooperation and foreign direct investment. In this context, Serge Abou, Ambassador of the European Union to China emphasized that “The capacity to build on the growth and innovation potential of SMEs is decisive for future EU-China trade relations. This is why we attach a great importance to the EU-China SME policy dialogue that most recently met on 16 September 2010 in Guangzhou.”

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 Centre will be operated by a consortium of European Chambers of Commerce, led by the China-Britain Business Council and includes the Benelux, French, German, Italian and Spanish Chambers in Beijing, as well as the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and Eurochambres. The EU SME centre will also play a signposting role for existing public and private business support services. “The centre will help SMEs from across the 27 Member States. Bringing together a critical mass of European SMEs to match-making events organised by the Centre is expected to raise the interest of Chinese partners” said Brian Outlaw, Executive Director of the China-Britain Business Council.