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Supporting the internationalisation of SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European economy. Within the EU they account for 99 % of all businesses, 67 % of all jobs in the private sector, as much as 85 % of all newly created jobs and some 59 % of the value added by the economy.
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Abstract

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European economy. Within the EU they account for 99 % of all businesses, 67 % of all jobs in the private sector, as much as 85 % of all newly created jobs and some 59 % of the value added by the economy. Making international contacts opens up new markets for SMEs and has the potential to boost SME competitiveness and growth considerably. In this guidebook the term ‘internationalisation' refers to all activities that put SMEs into a meaningful business relationship with a foreign partner: exports, imports, foreign direct investment (FDI — relocation or outsourcing), international subcontracting and international technical cooperation. It can take place at cross-border level, at transnational level inside the EU or at international level beyond the EU.