Export Promotion Needs the Disclosure of Industrial Potentials – A Case Study for the Federal State of Thuringia
In countries and regions with weak domestic markets, the orientation towards external markets plays an important rule. This applies even more for economies emerging from the transformation process from a state to a market economy with a small export sector and a continuous decline in the number of residents. The federal state Thuringia presents such an example. There is still a large gap in exports compared to Germany as a whole. The paper deals with the role of exports in economic development and economic measures to increase the export activities of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Thuringia. The study is based on a survey among SMEs in Thuringia on the performance of exporters and non-exporters. One of the main findings shows that export promotion was important only for one among three exporting companies during the last three years. That speaks for the confidence of the firms in their own power. The most measures used to implement or advance export activities are participation in a fair, information sessions on foreign markets and two general instruments to support companies: investment and innovation stimulation. As a result, economic measures make sense, but it should not depend on the age or the size of a company. Besides, the support should not only be given by department of foreign trade, but also by other departments. Finally, especially newcomers should be supported to entry foreign markets.