In General

Key facts and figures from the EU annual report 2018 on European SMEs

The report gives information on the performance of SMEs in EU countries and other partner countries. It consists of two parts: an annual report on European SMEs and country fact sheets, included an interesting report on Belgium.

Here are the main facts & figures

  • EU-28 SME exports of goods have increased by 20% since 2012.
  • The Single Market is the go-to market for EU-28 SMEs. It accounted for 70% of the value of SME exports, with 80% of exporting SMEs selling to other Member States.
  • The number of SMEs in the EU-28 increased by 13.8% between 2008 and 2017.
  • SMEs represented 88.3% of all EU-28 enterprises exporting goods.
  • The rest of the world accounted for only 30% of all SME exports. Furthermore, in 2016, 80% of all exporting SMEs were engaged in intra-EU trade, while less than half of exporting SMEs sold to markets outside the EU-28, and slightly more than a quarter of exporting SMEs sold to both markets.

Key factors identifying SMEs that are likely to export

The pattern of SME exports seems to follow the strategic choices of individual companies: while a large proportion of SMEs do not export at all, most of the exporting SMEs are regular exporters. Nevertheless, a number of characteristics distinguish companies that are likely to export. The key factors which increase the likelihood that an SME will export are: belonging to a group, being older, being large (in terms of turnover), having the ambition to grow, being active in the goods sector, selling to other businesses or organisations, and being innovative.

Why and how best to help SMEs to internationalise?

Most frequently SMEs refrain from entering new markets because they do not entirely understand or have the ability to master the risks related to operating abroad. This is why their individual needs usually fall into one of the following categories: ‘provision of information on foreign markets, their legal and regulatory environment’, ‘connecting with new partners’, ‘mentoring, training’, and ‘providing financial support’.

Source: EU Commission – Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Complete report

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