SME Panel in Kvareli, Georgia, 2014

Further to successful SME Panel in November last year which took place within the Vilnius Summit and the kick-off of the number of projects in the area of SME development, the fifth meeting of the SME Panel under the auspices of the Multilateral Eastern partnership Platform on “Economic Integration and Convergence with EU Policies” took place on 23rd and 24th October in Kvareli, Georgia. During the Panel, the following themes were discussed:

SME policies in Eastern Partner Countries – Various presentations from partner countries provided an update on latest developments as regards SME policies in the respective country. The presentations were complemented by interventions from EU delegations and other involved stakeholders.

Small Business Act (SBA) assessment in Eastern partner countries and activities of the EU in this area – the panel meeting endorsed the revised methodology of the SBA assessment and provided an outline f next steps. A representative from the EU commission outlined the EUs vision as regards SME policies in member states and the future development of the Small Business Act.

Access to Finance – This session addressed the main obstacles hindering access to finance in partner countries. The discussion drew together the demand side issues (financial literacy, business services) as well as supply side issues (requirements of banks for the collateral, local currency issues, etc.) from various institutional perspectives( International financial institutions, local banks, industries, etc.)

SME Flagship – panel participants reviewed the vision for the SME Panel and Flagship and its dedicated projects in the coming years.

During the Panel it was accentuated that SME development is crucial for the sustainable development for the economies in Eastern partnership region. The Panel determined the growing need for studies that will look into specific subjects – the impact of DCFTA on SMEs, the impact of improved access to finance through international financial Institutions on the development and growth of SMEs, removing trade barriers, etc.

Representative of the Business Research Centre at ILIA State University, Prof. Dimitri Japaridze took part in the panel meeting.