Published: Wed, 28 September 2016
“SMEs should receive extra EU support in seeking out trade and export opportunities abroad, especially with regard to Free Trade Agreements,” Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly told a high-level conference on EU trade policy in Bratislava, Slovakia this week (Thursday).
Mr Kelly, Ireland’s only member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, focused on how EU trade policy can best deliver for small to medium sized businesses in the EU.
“When the EU concludes a Free Trade Agreement with a third country, the European Commission could offer additional support for SMEs with several after-care events in Member States to help guide companies through the opportunities on offer. Such events would build awareness and allow firms to work out how best to seize such trade opportunities.”
Mr Kelly noted that SMEs provide almost all private sector employment in Ireland and truly are the driving force of our economy.
“Irish companies have become expert exporters of quality Irish goods to Europe and beyond. Ensuring that those firms can continue to expand and seek out new markets is vital”, he added.
The Fine Gael MEP also highlighted upcoming trade challenges such as the UK’s planned departure from the EU: “The consequences of a Brexit and ensuring Ireland can continue to trade with its neighbour in any eventuality is the foremost issue for Irish exporters right now. There’s about €1 billion per week in two-way trade in goods and services between Ireland and the UK and both sides are dependent on that business, so both the UK and Ireland will want that trade to continue.”