Both in the European Union and the Gulf region, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the main drivers of job creation, growth and economic diversification. They have local roots and provide local jobs, but can also exploit the opportunities from globalisation. SMEs therefore deserve an adequate public policy to help them get their ideas off the ground and grow, as well as tailor-made services provided by specialised support organisations. Chambers of Commerce are at the core of SME development. Building on their expertise in providing business support services and their daily direct contact with their member enterprises, they are in the best position to put forward specific policy recommendations to national and regional governments. Against this background, EUROCHAMBRES and FGCCC launched the EU-GCC Chamber Forum project in 2008, to create a platform for a structured exchange of best practices and policy views connected to strengthening SMEs and economic diversification between chamber managers from Europe and the Gulf. After several seminars in the GCC and visits to the European institutions and chambers which triggered targeted discussions on the crucial topic of SME development, we are now delighted to share the present study on SME policies in the six GCC states with you. The study highlights that a broad range of SME support programmes have been developed in the different states, but that those often are not streamlined and thus efforts are duplicated. A lead agency coordinating all SME related programmes in one country – e.g. a chamber of commerce – and a continuous exchange between all stakeholders involved would assure a pooling of resources and a more efficient development of SME services. Moreover, the business support policies developed in the European Union along with accompanying services could serve as a source of inspiration for the GCC states, although they will have to be adapted to the local situation. The findings of all activities of the EU-GCC Chamber Forum hence confirm the necessity for a continued dialogue between the two regions to increase mutual understanding, and intensify our economic relations. The chambers of commerce from both regions remain committed to deepen their existing friendship and cooperation to enable the full potential of SMEs to be reached and call upon decision makers to do the same
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