Small and medium-sized enterprises generate 17% of exports
In 2015, companies in non-agricultural commercial sectors reported total turnover of €645 billion. The 200,300 small and medium-sized exporting companies earned only 17%, while 3,900 mid-sized companies (mid-caps) accounted for 36% and 270 large companies for 47%. Only 6% of micro-enterprises and 32% of SMEs excluding micro-enterprises export; these proportions are much higher for multinational firms. For example, 42% of micro-enterprises and 74% of foreign multinational SMEs (excluding micro-enterprises) export, 19% and 75% respectively among French multinationals. These multinational companies of SME-dimension export amounts significantly higher than do purely-French or independent companies.
Every year, 40 to 50,000 companies export for the first time. These are primarily micro-enterprises: in 2015, 97% of them were independent and 2% French small groups. The maintenance rate in first-time exporters is very low. Export operations differ from domestic transactions in that they entail higher entry costs to foreign markets, longer payment times and a greater “customer” risk, which generates higher cash requirements.