Greek tea producer Anassa Organics is one of many European companies benefiting from EU trade deals. The company exports half of its products – mainly to Canada, South Korea, Japan and Singapore – and the EU’s trade agreements have a real and positive impact on sales and local job creation.
Small companies like Anassa Organics support over 13 million jobs in Europe through their exports, and thus they play a key role in the EU’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, too few SMEs harness the benefits of our trade agreements. Out of the 25 million smaller companies in the European Union, only 26% exported their goods or services in 2019, and most stayed within European markets.
The European Commission and the European Parliament have, therefore, made it a priority to raise awareness and to help EU companies, particularly smaller companies, benefit from our trade agreements. The EU’s trade deals are key in driving export performance, building resilience and helping businesses diversify their supply chains.
This is why the European Commission has created a new online portal, Access2Markets, to help more companies grow by making the most of the over 40 agreements the EU has with over 75 partners outside the EU. This multilingual, one-stop shop gives exporting and importing companies easy access to the practical and technical information they need to bring their international projects to fruition. The portal provides detailed information about EU trade agreements, and includes product-specific information such as customs duties, taxes, technical standards, trade flow statistics, and more.
EU trade agreements often bring reduced customs duties, helping to make European products more competitive in foreign markets. However, to reap such benefits, companies must be able to demonstrate the origin of their products – and smaller companies in particular can struggle to do so. Access2Markets comes to their rescue! Its interactive Rules of Origin self-assessment tool (ROSA) helps companies assess whether their product complies with the rules and understand which documentation must be provided to customs authorities.
Five months after its launch, Access2Markets attracts around 10,000 daily users. 2% of these are from Greece, putting Greece eighth in the user ranking after Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland. We are now making sure that companies all around Europe learn about the new portal.
Working together with business associations and local governments across Greece we have been promoting these new tools through on-line events. We are both impressed and delighted by the vigorous engagement of Greek stakeholders. To this end, on April 14, the Commission will be organizing a virtual training workshop on Access2Markets in Greek.
Access2Markets is there to respond to the needs of our companies. We welcome Greek stakeholders’ feedback so that we can continue to improve the portal further to ensure that it remains relevant and comprehensive, and that it keeps serving the interests and needs of its users. If you have not visited the portal yet, try it now: https://trade.ec.europa.eu/access-to-markets/en/content/
* Valdis Dombrovskis is Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Anna Michelle Asimakopoulou is an MEP and Vice Chair of the Committee of International Trade.