SMEs and ETI still reluctant to export despite aid

Posted Oct 24, 2022, 6:11 a.m.

“Internationalization is an essential growth driver for an SME. With the pressure linked to the rise in energy and raw material prices, a company that does not have the capacity to export is in danger,” said Didier Boulogne, Deputy Managing Director for Export of Business France. Diversifying its opportunities, smoothing out its risks, stimulating its innovation by confronting foreign competition… So many virtues of exporting for a company.

While France’s trade in services recorded a surplus of 36.4 billion euros last year, foreign trade plunged to -67.4 billion euros under the impact of the rising energy prices . However, companies exporting goods have never been so numerous: 136,400 in 2021, according to French Customs, up 6,800 operators. A good result certainly, but far from being enough!

One-stop shop Team France Export

“Only 10% of SMEs in the Ile-de-France region export, compared to an average of 20% in most other OECD countries, or even 30% of German SMEs”, indicates Pierre Mongrué, deputy general manager in charge of international affairs at the CCI Paris. Ile-de-France. And when they export, our companies lack consistency: 12% of SMEs and 33% of VSEs exporting in 2020 are no longer exporting the following year due to lack of preparation. “Export cannot be improvised. There are no blows, no windfall effect, ”underlines Didier Boulogne.

To encourage companies to develop internationally, the State set up, in 2019, a one-stop shop under the Team France Export banner, bringing together the CCIs of France, Business France and Bpifrance. A synergy between public services which remains perfectible according to a latest report from the Court of Auditors which calls for going further in the coordination of operators and for a better reputation of financial support offers.

Companies are generally supported by international advisers , employees of CCIs or Business France, and, for questions of financing and insurance, by specialists from the regional departments of Bpifrance. “At the CCI, we build a tailor-made course for each company that allows it to put in place a long-term strategy”, emphasizes Pierre Mongrué. Train the manager, acculturate him, help him choose his destination thanks to a market prioritization algorithm, inform him about taxation or regulations thanks to 175 country files… The range of tools is wide.

Focus on European countries

Therapanacea develops software based on artificial intelligence for radiotherapy technicians. This Parisian MedTech has benefited from this export acceleration for two years. “The CCI helped us to identify potential customer targets thanks to its local network and to recruit a local sales representative. She also referred us to prospecting insurance financing from Bpifrance,” explains Catherine Martineau-Huynh, director of operations at Therapanacea. The company currently generates 35% of its turnover of more than 2 million euros abroad. It targeted Europe, with Germany in the lead, as a priority market.

This startup is emblematic of the nuggets of French Tech. “These SMEs are expected on the international scene. They should not hesitate,” recommends Pierre Mongrué. And in an uncertain geopolitical context, this manager of the Paris Ile-de-France CCI recommends considering the European market with interest. “Because if French SMEs have often preferred to bet on distant destinations that are more difficult to access, they do not have enough of the reflex of Europe. Indeed, the old continent has the advantage of a unified market with common rules and to stable currencies .

Extended export dunning check

After 30 years of existence, the computer consulting and engineering group Viveris, with a turnover of 65 million euros in 2021, no longer has a choice. “To continue to develop, we have to conquer export markets,” says Franck Harmant, regional director of the Viveris group. Her first targets: Belgium, where she relies on a VIE (International Volunteering in Business), and Germany, where she has just taken part in the Innotrans rail transport fair in Berlin.

Business France plans to bring nearly 5,000 companies under the French flag this year in European fairs . “At a trade show, 65% of companies establish a business flow,” says Didier Boulogne. A participation that can be partly financed by grants from the Regions and the Chèque Relance Export, initiated during the health crisis and extended until April 15, 2023. “To start exporting, the bill will be halved thanks to all available devices. »

Go international!

The CCI Paris-IDF invites companies in its territory to meetings to open up internationally. Meetings are organized in each of the eight departments of the region. Kick-off on November 8 in Créteil in the Val-de-Marne. For more information, click here.

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SMEs and ETI still reluctant to export despite aid

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