The eco brief. SMEs and midcaps export more than you think

Containers at the port of Fos-sur-Mer, July 23, 2020 (CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

This is a study published by Business France on the basis of data communicated by Customs. Business France is the structure responsible for the international development of French companies. While they now represent 99% of the total number of French exporters, SMEs and mid-cap companies last year contributed 220 billion euros of the 510 billion of goods exported.

The trend is encouraging. Since last year, the crisis has had an impact on French exports, of course, because of the Covid-19. According to Customs, they fell by almost a quarter in the first half of the year. The loss amounted to fifty billion euros, except for pharmaceutical and agricultural products whose sales increased during the same period. But the most important thing is to note that last year, nearly 4,000 French companies set out for the first time to conquer foreign markets, mostly SMEs and micro-enterprises. It was before the crisis, but the signal is positive. It is a real encouragement.

Amplifying this movement amounts to creating a favorable ground for these small and medium-sized enterprises which only want to develop their markets abroad. This means: strengthening the quality of French products to move upmarket (this is one of the stumbling blocks of French production today) and produce better quality. This will make it possible to attract an international clientele who will not hesitate to pay the price.

This is what Germany has been doing for a long time: quality and reliability of production always make its difference in exports. This requires the priority given to innovation. Concrete example in the defense sector. The Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly announces, with the public investment bank Bpifrance, on Friday, the deployment of an innovation fund endowed with 200 million euros. It will be aimed at young companies and SMEs which develop innovative technologies of interest for defense. It remains to extend this ambition to other sectors.

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