European Single Market:

U.S. Government Efforts to Assist Small and Medium-Sized Exporters

NSIAD-90-167: Published: Jun 21, 1990. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 1990.

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Allan I. Mendelowitz
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified and evaluated trade issues related to the European Community's (EC) Single Internal Market Program (EC 1992), focusing on: (1) EC efforts to enhance the competitiveness of its small- and medium-sized enterprises; (2) U.S. government activities supporting U.S. small business exporters in the EC 1992 environment; and (3) areas in which collaboration with EC could assist such firms.

GAO found that: (1) EC took many steps to improve the competitiveness of its small- and medium-sized enterprises, including creating an agency to specifically address small- and medium-sized enterprise issues and providing financial and export assistance; (2) U.S. federal and state agencies were actively assisting small- and medium-sized enterprises to plan for EC 1992; (3) the U.S. government set up European information centers and a computerized network to assist enterprises in obtaining information and forming cooperative links with each other; (4) the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative created an Interagency Task Force on EC 1992 to identify and address U.S. business problem areas; (5) U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses' main concern was EC 1992 market access; (6) U.S. small- and medium-sized enterprises were interested in cooperative activities with EC small- and medium-sized enterprises, but collaboration was limited; and (7) the Department of Commerce decided that it could not directly participate in the development of the network in the United States, but Department of State officials were continuing inquiries regarding U.S. access to the information centers and the network.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department determined that it can sign agreements with EC. The Department has opened discussions with EC to develop a European Information Center for U.S. sall business. Discussions with the private sector regarding funding are ongoing.

    Recommendation: In light of the federal government's role in assisting U.S. small- and medium-sized enterprises to obtain the information they need in the EC 1992 environment, the Secretary of Commerce should resolve the issues that inhibit extension of the EC Business Cooperation Network to the United States. More specifically, the Secretary should determine: (1) whether Commerce can sign an agreement with EC to provide for U.S. participation; (2) whether Commerce or some other entity would be the appropriate U.S. sponsor; and (3) the feasibility of and potential sources of funds to support initiation of the network in the United States.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce


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