Brussels is the venue for experts and practitioners to discuss how SMEs internationalise

Published: 1 November 2006 at 11:49

An event to be held at the British Embassy in Brussels later this month will see experts and practitioners discussing the challenges facing SMEs in international markets. They will be debating why most small businesses do not expand into international markets even when they are a major source of growth and job creation both regionally and nationally.

As the level of cross border trade in the EU is unusually low many commentators have postulated that this low level of participation is due to the existence of various barriers, tariff and non-tariff, which are particularly damaging to SME involvement in international markets.

The Centre for International Business at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge has extensive experience of both assessing the efficacy of these services and programmes and of working with companies that are seeking to grow their international business. At the seminar on 21 November at The British Embassy, Professor Terry Mughan and Professor Lester Lloyd-Reason will present their findings and solutions to help SMEs overcome these barriers.

After carrying out a large-scale study of SMEs in the East of England, the Centre has recently completed a project which concentrated on obtaining a better understanding of medium-sized companies in the region. These can be real motors of growth but go largely ignored as most efforts and resources are directed at the first-time exporter. Terry said ‘We conducted thorough audits and diagnostics of these firms and their international operations and the Centre’s experts then went on to help companies address these issues and expand their international business.

The expertise of the Centre for International Business of Anglia Ruskin University was identified by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) who engaged them in conducting a 44 country study. 

“It is fitting that, in an era of globalisation, the OECD should carry out this major transnational study”,

says Lester.

“It has enabled us to see what prevents SMEs in many countries from trading internationally and what kind of support they need.”

Terry sees the Brussels seminar as an ideal opportunity to share the knowledge gained from these projects and link up with others who want to move this field of work on.

“SMEs go international for all kinds of reasons; to sell, to source, to innovate, to survive, to grow. All of these things can be done well or badly and there is a real need for better support to ensure they are done well.”

To find out more about some of the barriers facing SMEs and some solutions from top ranking experts from Anglia Ruskin at Cambridge, register for the event taking place at the British Embassy in Brussels on 21 November at