Staff Reporter
BALEARIC commerce minister Josep Juan Cardona said yesterday that it was “essential” for local businesses to establish trade links abroad, and pointed to an international symposium on cooperation which opened in Salonica (Greece) yesterday as an ideal opportunity.

Cardona was speaking at the opening of the symposium, part of the Europartenariat project and the B.O.R.D.E.R. financial development programme. He was accompanied by the director general of industrial promotion, Kurt Viaene and the managing director of the Centro Balears Europa, Fernando de Francisco Cordero.

Twenty-two of the 460 firms taking part in the symposium are Spanish and 12 of these are from the Balearics, which, according to Cardona, shows a desire to export abroad.

He described the programme as a great step forward for small and medium-sized businesses, helping them show their products to a wider market and seek new buyers abroad.

He said it was specially important for small firms, which, thanks to the programme, had a platform which helped them establish contacts on an international level with European Union countries. “They enjoy the same possibilities as the big firms, in that they can enlarge the number of sales points abroad and consolidate those they already have,” he said.

The minister explained that the project allows local firms not only to establish contacts and expand within the European Union but also in other neighbouring countries which are also attending the symposium.

The local firms taking part are from the food, service, footwear, furniture and design sectors.
The event, which operates as an international and multi-sector business platform, includes more than 14 hours of meetings to establish contacts.
The purpose is to help small and medium-sized businesses gain a footbold on an international level.
The first meeting of the programme was held in Vicenza (Italy) last November and it was aimed at four sectors: computers, food, textiles and footwear and wood and furniture.

Eighteen companies from the Balearic Islands took part, establishing contacts and sharing experiences with firms from Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.
Cardona's advice on the need to seek new markets comes just days after the business federation Afedeco claimed that 273 shops have closed in the city centre, 12 percent of them in the footwear and clothing sector.

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