More than 100 business, organizations and government officials participated in the international gathering.
The Alabama Department of Commerce hosted the 12th U.S.-EU Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) Workshop in Birmingham this week, giving small businesses an opportunity to connect with government trade officials from both sides of the Atlantic.
The daylong event allowed leaders from small businesses to engage directly with government officials from the United States, the European Commission and European Union member states, as well as SMEs and associations from each portion of the economic trade bloc.
“We are honored to have been selected to host such a prestigious event,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “Not only did the workshop expose Alabama as a foreign investment magnet that’s leading the charge in building an innovative and sustainable future in trade and industry, but it allowed us to showcase Alabama’s rich history with a tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights District, as well as a farm-to-table experience at Jones Valley Teaching Farm highlighting Alabama’s world-class agricultural products.”
Bryant Trick, acting assistant U.S. trade representative for Europe and the Middle East, and Hubert Gambs, European Commission deputy director general, opened the workshop in Birmingham, along with Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce Diane Farrell.
They were joined at the event by Ivey and Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield. Other Department of Commerce representatives included Christoph Dörr, director of the department’s European office, and Christina Stimpson, the department’s top trade expert.
“Through our Office of International Trade, we are committed to strengthening Alabama’s global business profile and working with our trade partners to foster a healthy climate for international business,” Canfield said. “This event will help ensure that companies in Alabama and other states are directly connected to the resources they need to access markets in the European Union and develop new business opportunities.”
Topics for discussion at the SME Workshop in Alabama included advancing global trade leadership through the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, SME access to finance, developing successful international strategies to drive equitable growth in the U.S. and the EU, and Alabama-EU trade and investment opportunities.
U.S. goods and services trade with the EU totaled an estimated $1.3 trillion in 2022. Just over 92% of all U.S. exporters to the EU in 2021 were small- and medium-sized firms, according to data from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Alabama’s connection to the EU business community is strong, with countries such as Germany, Austria and France ranking as top European investors in the state as well as top European destinations for Alabama exports.
More than 100 representatives from Alabama small businesses, trade organizations and government agencies registered to participate in the workshop.
“The Alabama-European relationship is incredibly important to our state — so much so that we have a dedicated trade and investment office for Europe located in Germany,” said Stimpson, director of the state’s Office on International Trade. “Alabama has more than 265 companies from the European Union operating in the state. We also exported about $8 billion to Europe in 2022, our highest year ever.”
The conference was convened by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration, alongside the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade and Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
The location of the U.S.-EU SME Workshop alternates each year between the United States and the European Union.
The 2022 installment was hosted by the EU in Augsburg, Germany, with an Alabama delegation participating as part of a trade mission.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.