BUSINESS

SMEs have competitive handicap, OECD study shows

EIRINI CHRYSOLORA

Just one in every 10 small and medium-sized enterprises exports, a rate among the EU’s lowest.

TAGS: Economy

Small and medium-sized enterprises in Greece have a serious handicap to overcome before they can rival their foreign peers, as they have no access to funding, their export performance is poor and they are not supported by a modern network of infrastructure, according to a special report published on Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on SMEs and entrepreneurship.

The Greek crisis has had a major impact on Greek SMEs, traditionally the backbone of Greece’s economy. The OECD report stresses that credit conditions in Greece are yet to revert to pre-crisis levels: In 2017, 23 percent of Greek SMEs cited lack of financing as their most serious problem, while in the European Union, this rate only came to 7 percent. The number of SMEs asking for funding halved from 2010 to 2017, the report adds.

The OECD further notes that the export performance of Greek SMEs is among the weakest in the EU, as only 10 percent of them export.

Another major drawback for SMEs and their workers is the disparity between skills and business requirements, despite the generally high education levels. Greek workers, the OECD comments, are among those who often say they are overqualified for their jobs. Moreover, adult employees do not have the opportunity to boost their skills.

Regarding the institutional framework, OECD notes that the complexity of procedures and the restructuring of debts are the main issues for SMEs in Greece that the out-of-court settlement mechanism and the one-stop-shop launched last year are attempting to tackle.

The report further cites a shortfall recorded in technology and logistics that is having an adverse impact on the competitiveness of business, while the performance of digital infrastructure is considered uneven.

The only positive point to draw from the report concerns the record of Greek SMEs in the field of innovation, as it comes close to the OECD member-state average, even though the record of medium-sized enterprises in research and development is far below average.

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