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 Interview with Carmen Falkenberg Ambrosio
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Interview with Carmen Falkenberg Ambrosio

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Running a successful business is never easy, let alone in times of global …

Running a successful business is never easy, let alone in times of global
fi nancial uncertainty when investments are in short supply. The EU funded
East Invest programme helps companies and business associations in
the Eastern neighbourhood to acquire necessary skills and adopt practices
to improve their competitiveness in the EU market and beyond, says
Carmen Falkenberg Ambrosio, responsible for economic cooperation
with Eastern Partnership countries at the European Commission.


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  • 1. EuroThe People Behind the Projects Economy > East Invest > Interview with Carmen Falkenberg AmbrosioEast Invest: a two-way street Running a successful business is never easy, let alone in times of global financial uncertainty when investments are in short supply. The EU funded East Invest programme helps companies and business associations in the Eastern neighbourhood to acquire necessary skills and adopt practices to improve their competitiveness in the EU market and beyond, says Carmen Falkenberg Ambrosio, responsible for economic cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries at the European Commission.N CarmenFalkenbergAmbrosio What is East Invest trying to achieve? East Invest is a new regional programme that seeks to encourage investment and to strengthen ongoing investment promotion at two levels: between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), and among Eastern Partnership countries themselves. In the long term, East Invest should improve the investment climate and business culture by boosting entrepreneurial activities, and thus contribute to the socioeconomic development of these countries. How is it achieving its objectives? What are the areas on which it focuses? East Invest builds on earlier programmes supporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Eastern Partnership countries and also offers new instruments. The basic idea is to create a network, and within this framework to carry out activities supporting SMEs and SME associa- tions. An important aspect is the regional dimension of East Invest. We want to help companies in the region go international: to export or import commodities and services or attract invest- ments through partnerships with SMEs from the EU or from other countries in the region. For example a wine-making company in Georgia would like to export to the EU but lacks expertise in bottling wine and marketing it in the EU. The company teams up with a German bottling company that can buy the wine in bulk, bottle it and market it through a big supermarket chain in Germany, with which it has an agreement. By working together, both SMEs benefit, and so do the EU and the German consumers. Another area of action is dialogue between the public and private sector. We try to enhance private sector capacity by strengthening SME associations, so that, for example, when legislation is being drawn up in a given country, SMEs can participateThis publication does in the discussion and defend their interests. East Invest is about achieving partnerships, butnot represent the doesn’t only do matchmaking, as it also develops specialized training, study visits, trade fairs etc.official view of the EC involving SMEs or their associations in the Eastern Partnership countries.or the EU institutions.The EC accepts no Will these activities be focused on specific sectors?responsibility or Some will be sector-oriented and some cross-sectoral. We try to adapt to the situation in theliability whatsoever country. An assessment was made before the launch of the project towith regard to its identify 5-6 sectors for each partner country that would be given pre- This is a series of interviews withcontent. ference because of their competitive advantage and capacity to foster leaders of projects funded by trade with the EU. What is important is that they should also be attrac- the EU’s Regional Programme, tive for companies and investors from the EU, so that the interests of prepared by the ENPI Info Centre. partner countries, individual regions and those of the EU can meet. © 2011 ENPI Info Centre / EU
  • 2. Interview with Carmen Falkenberg Ambrosio p. 2 ENPI Info Centre > Economy > East Invest How is the programme set up and funded? “We want The Commission is providing €7 million of the project’s total budget of €8.7 million. The rest to help comes from the consortium lead by the European Association of the Chambers of Commerce, companies in Eurochambres. The consortium implementing East Invest has 85 partners from EU Member Sta- the region go tes and Eastern Partnership countries, the largest number of partners in any of our programmes. The partners are business associations and Chambers of Commerce which represent the inte- international” rest of a large number of SMEs on the ground. We target them in the first place, hoping that a network called «East Alliance» will emerge in the course of this project. East Alliance is open also to SMEs and associations that may wish to join in the future. What is East Alliance? It is a network of SMEs and SME associations, which the project is trying to develop. Towards the “Applying end of the project we hope the participants will be so intertwined that they will want to conti- EU norms nue working together, exchanging experience and knowledge, carrying out study visits etc. In and practices this way, we hope that East Invest activities will continue in the future. will make Is the project expected to have a long term or a ripple effect? companies There are factors that should ensure a long term effect. As this project advances, we hope that more companies will increasingly see results such as new cooperation opportunities, due to the new competitive skills they learned and contacts established; or modified legislation that takes into account their no matter interests. We hope companies will realise that applying EU norms and practices will make them where they more competitive no matter where they operate – in the EU, China or elsewhere in the world. operate – in What are the biggest challenges you expect to face in its implementation? the EU, China The biggest challenge is to reach out to SME associations in partner countries so that they parti- or elsewhere cipate in East Invest. We encourage them to be actively involved. The project is demand-driven in the world” to make them feel they are part of the process, not just receiving good advice and not being heard. We want East Invest to be a two-way street with a clear added value for all those partici- pating in it. East Invest - Support to SME sector Supports economic development and facilitates regional trade through contributing to the improvement of the business environment, with an emphasis on SMEs and networking www.eastinvest.eu Participating countries Objective Armenia, Azerbaijan, It aims to support the economic development of the region and the improvement of its business Belarus, Georgia, environment through building up networks between the Eastern partners themselves and between Moldova, Ukraine them and the EU, in priority sectors, and by developing mechanisms to encourage the flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). East-Invest also supports Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) in their internationalisation Timeframe process, improves their networking and facilitates their trade development. 2010–2013 Find out more Budget ENPI Info Centre – East Invest www.enpi-info.eu/maineast.php?id=315&id_type=10 €7 million The ENPI Info Centre is an EU-funded Regional Information and Communication project highlighting the partnership between the EU and Neighbouring countries. The project isENPI info centre managed by Action Global Communications. www.enpi-info.eu