By Richa Chakrabarty
Venturing into the export market plays a vital role in business expansion. For those Indian firms looking beyond the domestic market and willing to explore new avenues, especially in the European market, the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from the developing countries (better known by its Dutch acronym, CBI) can be of great help. CBI is an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and part of its development cooperation efforts. Operating since 1971, this agency has provided guidance and market entry services to companies across the globe in gaining access to, maintaining and expanding market share in European Union (EU) markets. CBI assists entrepreneurs in developing countries to sell their products in European markets. For this purpose, it has developed a wide range of support programmes for many sectors of industry.
How to become a CBI participant
Those worried that gaining access to CBI’s market information database could be a lengthy, tedious and expensive process, will be pleasantly surprised to find that the procedure is not only simple but also almost completely free for all developing countries. All you need to do is to log on to the website www.cbi.eu and register yourself. Registration requires simple formalities like selecting the country one belongs to and later disclosing one’s name and contact details (email address and mobile number). Once the member has filled in these details, an authorisation key will be sent to the contact details mentioned, in order to activate the account. Once the authorisation key is received, one can easily keep adding, updating and rectifying the company details.
Once registered on the CBI website, members can avail CBI’s market information database. The whole European market is divided into four segments—agricultural, consumer and industrial products, and services. Access to a comprehensive European market information database, through segment bifurcation, is the major advantage and a benefit that only registered members can avail. Market studies and information available in CBI’s database is reviewed and updated every year. Members can easily identify the category their business falls into and can search for details about various companies by selecting the EU country that they would like to trade with.
“The market information provided by CBI is collected and written with much care by qualified researchers and sector experts and is based on a variety of sources (for example, databases with trade statistics), which makes it a reliable source of market information,” adds Bram van Helvoirt, programme manager, CBI Market Intelligence.
Entering a new market with completely different working conditions not only involves a risk but also requires experience and thorough domain knowledge. This is where CBI comes into the picture. It has a solid network of international stakeholders and via its export coaching programmes (ECPs), it helps by advising, counselling and providing technical assistance to improve export marketing techniques, product design and quality, and production processes, in order to contribute to one’s firm’s competitiveness in EU markets. Furthermore, CBI also organises trainings and assists business support organisations (BSOs) to strengthen their business support capacities.
Things to be taken care of
While entering into trade with companies in EU, make sure that your company details are correct, as CBI investigates and checks the authenticity of your company details and the legal and market requirements that need to be met before entering EU. Quality is the main concern to consumers and end users in EU. There are multiple rules, regulations and standards on quality stipulated by EU, national governments, trade and industry bodies, non-governmental organisations, etc. CBI not only checks that all standards are met by the suppliers, it also helps in coaching exporters and BSOs in meeting these requirements.
Shaili Endoscopy in Vadodara is one successful company that took CBI’s help to enter EU market. It took three audits to put this small local company on the right track. “Dr Paresh Shah of Shaili Endoscopy decided to enter the European market. He built a complete new plant meeting all EU requirements. I visited Shaili five times for training purposes. On my advice, the company focused on Switzerland, Germany and UK as core markets. But that was only the beginning. Through a contact at the 2009 Medica fair, the company received a contract in Brazil worth half a million dollar a year, over four years,” says Leendert Santema, medical programme expert, CBI. However, Leendert Santema concedes that not all programme participants are successful. Five companies failed to make it. One of these companies, a manufacturer of syringes and needles from India, squandered the opportunities offered by CBI. “I doubted their investments. They didn’t develop their markets and didn’t implement any of marketing plans proposed to them.”
At a glance
Registration on the CBI website is free to gain access to CBI’s rich market information database
- CBI organises export coaching and training programmes for those exporters interested in venturing into the European market
- CBI also assists business support organisations to strengthen their business support capacities
- To enter the export markets in Europe, companies need to meet all standards specified