CDP in Brussels: how we support the export of European SMEs

A new study implemented in collaboration with Bpifrance, the British Business Bank, the Instituto de Crédito Oficial and KfW to promote the internationalisation of companies in Europe

Rome March 8, 2018

In 2016, the European Union confirmed its position as the world's leading exporter of goods, with a total of 6.8 trillion euros of exports (twice the figure achieved by the NAFTA countries, which include the USA, Canada and Mexico). This record remains unbeaten, even when the share of trade between EU member states (which represents around 60% of the total) is removed from the equation. In the five major EU economies, SMEs account for around 40% of total exports and 50% of imports. These are the figures which have emerged from the new CDP study, which - with the support of the other National Promotional Institutions from the Europe's top five economies - namely Bpifrance, the British Business Bank, the Instituto de Crédito Oficial and KfW - analysed the internationalisation activities undertaken by small and medium-sized businesses in Europe.

The study shows that despite the substantial contribution made by SMEs to their respective domestic markets (these companies generate more than half of the total added value, and employ two-thirds of the total employees), less than 30% of small and medium-sized companies succeed in exporting their goods or services, with only 3% managing to invest directly in foreign countries. Indeed, SMEs encounter a host of obstacles when making the decision to embark upon the process of internationalisation: a lack of information, issues in identifying partner companies abroad, unwieldy administrative processes and a shortage of managerial skills. The difficulty of gaining access to credit is another obstacle to be added to this list: in this regard, the National Promotional Institutions (NPIs), which boast a long history of providing financing to SMEs, also play a key role in supporting the internationalisation of these companies. Indeed, they represent a major source of support for European SMEs looking to begin the process of internationalisation, through two key activities: in direct terms, NPIs finance exports, whereas indirectly, they also focus on the factors that increase the competitiveness of the SMEs in question - promoting increased innovation and digitalisation, for example.

In collaboration with the other European National Promotional Institutes, CDP Group is committed to breaking down the barriers to internationalisation for SMEs, thus encouraging communal, shared growth. Our daily activities in this area, along with the export hub, enable Italy to excel when facing the global markets.

Find out more on how CDP Group supports enterprises