The full trading potential of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) is not being realised, especially when it comes to working internationally, findings in a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) reveal today.
The report - SME internationalisation in central and eastern Europe - collects the views of SME experts who attended ACCA events in Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria in late 2011. The report also offers a number of recommendations for policy makers and governments to help SMEs trade across borders, overcome obstacles and become truly international.
Rosana Mirkovic, author of the report and head of SME policy at ACCA, says: 'This report is a clear message for SMEs and for governments to think beyond borders. There are practical steps that can be taken, from helping SMEs to access networks and overseas partners, to breaking down trade barriers'.
ACCA says that encouraging the internationalisation of SMEs is an important policy goal for governments and the European Commission. It urges governments to explore ways of helping SMEs overcome various obstacles to trading, and recommends that this can be done by:
- Providing access to networks and overseas partners
- Encouraging access to multinational supply chains
- Strengthening capabilities of SMEs by creating clusters which bring together companies, universities, research and development and local public authorities
- Enabling access to information and support
- Supporting e-commerce
- Breaking down trade barriers.
Rosana Mirkovic concludes: 'The limitations SMEs face are universal, and range from problems accessing finance to not being informed about new opportunities. Local red tape and intellectual proper issues can also stifle ambitions. But a major barrier is often the lack of connections to networks and local partners. Identifying and accessing these local partners, who understand the realities and complexities of the market, is a major challenge for SMEs seeking to expand abroad.
'Clearly, the accountancy profession in partnership with SMEs, governments and the European Commission have a part to play in removing these barriers'.
- Read the report 'SME internationalisation in central and eastern Europe' from the 'Related Links' section to the left of this article.