The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade Mrs. Karien van Gennip sent a letter this week to Dutch Parliament, answering MP-questions resulting from my June 21 press conference.
In summary her letter covers three topics (to download the Dutch letter as Word document, click here):
1. The Minister agrees that European SMEs cannot compete on equal footing with American SMEs due to a WTO-GPA agreement in place since 10 years.
2. To reverse the preferred treatment American SMEs are getting under the WTO agreement, the topic has now been put on the agenda of the current WTO-negotiations by the EU, supported by the Dutch government.
3. The Netherlands has started a trial with a SBA-pact for SMEs, a so-called SBIR arrangement which awards government R&D projects to SMEs.
The good news is that the Dutch government explicitly recognizes the unfairness of the issue and now actively supports the lobby to renegotiate the WTO-GPA agreement. I am glad my lobby effort and press conference in June on behalf of SUN&SUP had some impact. What I am less satisfied about is that the Dutch government feels it’s already doing something to support SMEs with government projects. The fact of the matter is that these SBIR-projects she refers to, total only a few million Euros, which is nothing compared to the 23% of public procurement the US government awards to American SMEs annually. Government procurement in the Netherlands totals 30 billion Euro (…) annually. Imagine only 10% of that, 3 billion Euro, flowing to Dutch SMEs every year. Wouldn’t that be a true impulse for employment growth and innovation among SMEs, the European Union is so desperately pursuing with it’s Lisbon agenda? I’ll try to get this point across.