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Tailored support for South West business in Europe

July 14, 2010 12:00 AM

A local Euro-MP has called upon small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the South West to "look to Europe" for prosperity after a recently published report showed a positive link between exports and SME performance.

Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson was commenting on a European Commission study in which "internationalised" firms reported employment growth of 7%, while those focused on local markets grew by only 1%. Officials will now look into what the EU can do to help SMEs export.

Watson said;

"The single market offers South West businesses unrestricted access to almost 450m customers. With so many small firms struggling, this represents a tremendous opportunity to help weather the storm and even grow."

However, the report also found that the percentage of UK SMEs exporting was below the EU average of 25%. This is backed up by figures produced by the South West Observatory that show local businesses lag behind in the export markets.

Watson believes this is largely because only 16% of businesses know that support is available to help them take the step;

"Many SMEs are put off exporting because they think it is too complicated. But the EU has removed the barriers to trade within Europe and advice and support is available through organisations like Enterprise Europe Network.

"The single market is worth £200bn to UK businesses, and it is time the South West takes its fair share of this."

Enterprise Europe Network offer assistance to firms looking to do business in Europe. The South West European Policy and Strategy Manager Claudia Lock-Fürst has invited interested regional companies to come forwards for advice;

"Enterprise Europe Network has provided tailored support to hundreds of South West businesses. We have helped them expand their operations in Europe and secure all the benefits that the EU has to offer.

"Full details of our services can be found on our website (www.enterpriseeuropesw.org.uk) or by contacting the office on 01275 370 997."