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French Brain-trust to Help Small Firms
Local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are eager to explore the European market will have French experts at their disposal from the start of next year.

The Shanghai Small Enterprises Trade Development Service Center has reached an agreement with ECTI, a French non-profit and Chinese Government-approved association which aims to help developing countries.

"French brainpower will help local entrepreneurs sharpen their competitive edge, especially in the European market," said Jonathan Goo, director of the international co-operation department with the center.

He said the existence and healthy growth of small firms are critical because they help promote social stability through job opportunities even though they cannot contribute very much to the city's gross domestic product.

Shanghai had 271,999 small and medium-sized firms with about 6.4 million employees by 2001, according to official statistics.

And the numbers have no doubt increased because every month 3,000-4,000 small firms open as compared with 1,000-2000 small firms that are washed out of the market, according to Goo.

Shanghai's small firms, some started by people who quit management positions in State-owned enterprises, some by returned overseas Chinese and some by homegrown entrepreneurs, have mixed management and profit-making levels.

"They are keen to learn because it's their money at stake," Goo said. "We are obliged to offer them options to improve."

ECTI, with more than 3,000 registered members who are former managers and executives of companies, government departments or public service organizations, is ready to transmit its expertise without receiving any payment.

(China Daily November 18, 2002)

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