Inter-Chamber Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Working Group Position Paper 2018/2019 - 商会间中小企业工作组建议书2018/2019 Go back »


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) constitute the foundation of most, if not all, national economies in the world. Most parts of all supply and value chains that end in either business-to-consumer or business-to-government are made up by products and services provided by SMEs. Smaller businesses generate around 50 to 70 per cent of all jobs and incomes, and they are usually key contributors to their country’s gross domestic product (GDP), especially in developed countries. Furthermore, the dynamism of SMEs enables them to act as some of the main drivers for entrepreneurship and development. Finally, SMEs are not only a valuable source of support for larger companies, they also constitute the seeds from which some of tomorrow’s multinational corporations (MNCs) will grow. Without a strong SME base, countries will not only have their competitive edge dulled in terms of creativity and innovation, but their overall economic development and social welfare could be seriously compromised as well.

Fostering innovation and promoting social welfare feature prominently in China’s mid- and long-term development strategy in the 13th Five-Year Plan (13FYP), China Manufacturing 2025 (CM2025) and the Internet Plus Action Plan, and they were further reinforced as key objectives during the 19th Party Congress and the 2018 Two Sessions. In order to achieve these two goals, supporting domestic and international SMEs in China will be absolutely essential.

The Inter-Chamber Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Working Group was established in 2014 as a new advocacy element of the European Union (EU) SME Centre Phase Two, with the objective of strengthening advocacy for European SMEs. The working group is based on the European Chamber’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Forum. It brings together European SMEs to create a strong channel where concerns over the business challenges faced in China can be expressed. The working group’s recommendations represent the concerns and interests of SMEs from all EU Member States.

The Inter-Chamber Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Working Group organises a series of regular working group and policy meetings that are intended to provide practical solutions and policy advice to European SMEs and their stakeholders.

Definition of SMEs in Europe and China 

According to the European Commission (EC), the classification of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises is determined by their staff headcount and financial ceiling. An SME by the European definition is an enterprise that employs less than 250 people and has an annual turnover not exceeding euro (EUR) 50 million or total assets greater than EUR 43 million. However, on 6th February 2018, the EC launched a public consultation on the review of what the definition of an SME should be. SMEs are the backbone of the EU’s economy. In the non-financial business sector, they account for 99.8 per cent of the total number of businesses throughout the EU and 67 per cent of its employment, and they generate 57 per cent of its added value. Furthermore, 93 per cent of European SMEs are micro SMEs. 

In China, SMEs are defined, according to the SME Promotion Law, as companies that “have a relatively small size in personnel and scope of business”. The standards for classifying SMEs are formulated by relevant departments of the State Council, and the identification of a company as a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise is dependent upon a series of variables, such as the industry it belongs to, its operating income, its total assets and its number of employees.SMEs constitute an overwhelming majority of China’s enterprises and are key to its economic development, as they represent 99.6 per cent of companies and comprise more than 60 per cent of its GDP. 

EU SME Projects in China

The EU SME Centre (Phase Two) runs from July 2014 to July 2019. Its main objectives are: assisting European SMEs to establish and develop a commercial presence in the Chinese market (through exports or investments) by providing EU added-value support services; improving corporate synergies and increasing best practice sharing at the national and regional EU business association levels, with the ultimate goal of benefitting EU SMEs intending to do business in China; and strengthening advocacy efforts on behalf of the EU business community to help create a better business environment.

The China Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) SME Helpdesk—currently in Phase IV from 2015 until 2018—supports European SMEs in both protecting and enforcing their IPR in or relating to Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan. These include trademarks, patents, industrial designs, trade secrets, copyright and geographical indications. Available to all EU SMEs, SME networks, chambers of commerce and industry associations, the helpdesk offers a variety of services and information free of charge in the form of jargon-free, first-line, confidential advice on intellectual property and related issues, training, materials and online resources.

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