Finance and Economic Services
launches EU information meetings for SMEs
Parliamentary Secretary Edwin Vassallo yesterday launched a series of
EU information meetings for small enterprises, each meeting for a different
The meetings will be specifically addressing the following sectors:
construction; bakers and confectioners; furniture and aluminium manufacturers;
importers and exporters; crafts manufacturers; mechanics and panel beaters;
and foodstuff producers.
The meetings will take place at the METCO offices in San Gwann.
Present at the meetings will be those agencies assisting the cultivation
of small enterprise in Malta within an enlarged European Union. These
will include the: Building Industry Consultative Committee; Malta Standards
Authority; MIC; GRTU; IPSE; Customs; Malta Crafts Council; VAT Department
and the FOI.
Vassallo said the information exercise would be completing that of the
EUs enterprise directorate-general, whose document on enterprise
and enlargement seeks to address the challenges ahead.
With accession, the EU is expected to become the worlds largest
exporter with a share of 20 per cent of world exports. Trade within
the EU will also increase by a further nine per cent.
However, the opening-up of markets puts new pressure on enterprises,
especially in traditional industrial sectors. SMEs are particularly
exposed to the numerous changes in the business environment.
We have to prepare these small enterprises for accession, because they
form the basis of our economy. Their specific needs have to be taken
into account," Vassallo said.
"They have challenges to respond to and opportunities to grasp.
It is for this reason that we shall be meeting the different sectors
at METCO, alongside the agencies designed to help them, and assist them
in their information needs for EU accession."
Vassallo said the meetings have been designed to address the economic
impact of the enlarged EU market, now to grow to an approximate market
of half a billion consumers.
"We shall be discussing the economic impact from the removal of
tariffs and other trade barriers, equipping ones company for European
competition, and how to go on about offering their services beyond Maltese
Vassallo said the demand for information from small enterprises had
increased dramatically since the elections. Companies had now started
seeking information on commencing their operations within the European
"It is no longer a question of if Malta enters the EU
for these enterprises. They want to know how they will face competition
and how they can capitalise on the opportunities available.
"These meetings will also help most of the agencies prepare themselves
for the challenges they shall meet when addressing the needs of small
and medium enterprise. Such consultation is endemic to a change in culture
in our business community. Enterprises have to meet more frequently
and ask questions in order to learn more about the experience we are
about to embark upon."
Vassallo said foreign parent companies whose franchises are also based
in Malta, had asked their Maltese counterparts to start thinking about
extending their operations abroad.