Magazine article Information Today

The European Community 1992: Healthy Prospects or Stronger Competitors?

Magazine article Information Today

The European Community 1992: Healthy Prospects or Stronger Competitors?

Article excerpt

The European Community 1992: Healthy Prospects or Stronger Competitors?

When the European Community (EC) creates one single internal market out of 12 disparate countries in 1992, how will American based information service businesses be affected? How can American companies get ready for that significant change in the business climate?

"Do your homework now and be aware of what's going on in the Community," advises Michaela Platzer, program director of EC 1992 for the United States Chamber of Commerce. She points out that the European Comminity market will consist of 320 million consumers with a GNP approaching 5 trillion dollars. The attempt is to eliminate all barriers to trade so that the twelve participating nations will establish a free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a two-fold program vis-a-vis EC '92. One thrust is toward influencing policy both with the EC directly and through the Bush Administration. The other is educational. The Chamber has recently published EC 1992: A Practical Guide for American Business. This 143-page publication is available to members for $25 and non-members for $30. Write or call the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H St., NW, Washington, DC 20062, or call (202) 463-5460.

For serious EC '92 watchers, there are a series of quarterly updates which discuss the latest news of EC '92 issues. Called the Action Bulletin, they will be coming out over the next year and cost $20.

Platzer thinks that the trade policies will not of themselves affect competition for the American market per se but suggests that the enormous increase in the size of the soon-to-be largest market in the world will create economics of scale which might rebound on American markets. The economics which European vendors will experience might make it more feasible for them to sell cheaper products in the United States.

On the effect of EC '92 on American companies that wish to do business in Europe, "The opportunities will be there," states Paul Zurkowski, president of Ventures in Information and former president and founder of the Information Industry Association. "But," he added, "I am not certain whether American information service providers will be capable of taking advantage of that market." Zurkowski went on to explain that most American companies have yet to adequately service the existing market in the United States and, as a consequence, the net result will be a stronger European Information Industry.

But opportunities to do business in European, according to Zurkowski, will be greater. With the elimination of internal boundaries, all new services will be needed, and the people who know how to create information products should be there "now" making connections and determining what information services should contain. For example, the markets which are currently divided by country boundaries and languages today will not automatically turn into one market tomorrow, simply because boundaries are eliminated. What is required are information tools like European-wide Yellow Pages so that Germans can inquire about Italian products. If the information provider decided on talking Yellow Pages, they need to be done in all European languages. "Really," Zurkowski concluded, "the opportunities are fabulous."

Zurkowski advises that the best way for Americans to jump into the market is to open offices overseas and hire native people to develop the products. …

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