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USTR Hosts U.S-EU Conference for Small Businesses

On October 13, Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro and European Union Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprise Envoy Daniel Calleja Crespo opened the second United States–European Union (EU) small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) Best Practices Exchange. Now that the joint report from this conference has been finalized, we wanted to share the results of this valuable new initiative.

The two-day conference was held at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in Washington. The conference included officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the EU’s Directorates General for Trade and for Enterprise and Industry; officials from U.S. state and EU member state governments; and small business executives, including members of USTR’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Small and Minority Business (ITAC 11) and representatives of European SME associations.

US-EU SME Conference
Ambassador Sapiro speaks at the U.S.-EU SME Conference

The October 13-14 Best Practices Exchange, and the first SME meeting in Brussels in June, were launched under the auspices of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), with the goal of enhancing trade and investment opportunities for U.S. and EU SMEs. Small businesses are the engines of economic growth and job creation on both sides of the Atlantic, yet they face a number of challenges that can inhibit their ability to engage in international trade. These meetings launched an ongoing dialogue between the United States and the EU, aimed at developing cooperative initiatives to enhance small business participation in transatlantic trade, tackle trade barriers faced by SMEs in foreign markets, and exchange best practices on other policies of interest to small business, such as entrepreneurship and financing.

As a result of the two exchanges and discussions with stakeholders, the United States and EU agreed to take forward a number of initiatives. These include developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) guiding joint small business trade promotion activities, such as joint trade shows and efforts to expand business partnerships in Europe and the United States; exploring opportunities for linking small business regional innovation clusters on both sides; exchanging information and best practices on entrepreneurship and training programs, and on small business finance and venture capital; and conducting future Best Practices Exchanges outside of Washington and Brussels, to engage a wider range of SMEs, with priority attention to issues such as protection of intellectual property, standard-setting, and challenges in transatlantic trade. The parties also discussed U.S. and EU cooperation to support SME trade in the Southern Mediterranean region. The full text of the United States–European Union SME Best Practices Exchange Joint Report to the TEC Co-Chairs may be found here.