More must be done to support British companies exporting goods and services overseas.
Last week the Chamber’s Policy Team attended the 'Export To Growth' event run by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in partnership with PWC and HSBC. The event was an opportunity for UKTI and Government to engage with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) already exporting or looking to export in the future. It also formed part of a long-term initiative to increase the number of SME exporters from 20% to 25%, in line with stronger competition from Europe.
Britain’s trade deficit continues to widen, with a greater volume of goods and services entering the country from abroad than being exported. With the national programme of cuts and austerity hitting the UK’s International Trade department to the tune of a £60 million budget reduction in the next 3 years it is clearly a tough time for Britain’s exporters. These difficulties are compounded by a global slowdown which has particularly impacted upon our key export partners- the United States and the Eurozone.
However, there remain some significant opportunities for Britain’s exporters and this was a central theme for the Export To Growth event. The delegates heard encouraging stories from some of the region’s international successes. An important message reiterated by all the speakers was the huge opportunities on offer in emerging markets. The so-called BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China) were acknowledged as great prospects for UK companies alongside the Goldman Sach’s identified ‘Next Eleven’ largest economies of Turkey, Nigeria, Mexico, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam. It is the very development of these countires which presents such significant opportunities; as one speaker noted- national infrastructure projects gave his firm the chance to win huge scale orders. Less than one third of surveyed exporters in the Leeds City Region are currently trading with China, while only 22% trade with South America and only 20% trade with Russia. Clearly, these emerging and fast-growing markets present businesses in the region with significant trading opportunities.
However, it is evident that if the United Kingdom is to close its growing trade gap, further support for British exporters is required. The Chambers of Commerce have consistently called for an export-led recovery, and the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement featured further support for UK Trade and Investment to help medium sized businesses target new markets. However, Britain’s goods trade deficit is widening, and is at its highest level since the series began in 1998. The Government has sought to address market failures, introducing an export finance guarantee scheme and announcing a £45m boost for UKTI, £10m of which will be directed to medium sized businesses. This is helpful; however it follows significant cuts to the UKTI budget. Substantial barriers to new international markets remain, with non-exporters reporting a lack of contacts, insufficient market information or intelligence and inadequate finance. More must be done to encourage businesses in the service sector and SMEs to target international trade, as well as to assist existing exporters to maximise their international trade opportunities.
In addition the Chamber will be running an export event for new exporters. Titled “Are You Ready To Export” this event will provide a comprehensive introduction to exporting and is run in partnership with UKTI.
Aimed at companies that are looking to take the next step in their growth plans and develop international markets - but have so far had little or no experience of exporting. Whether you’re a new start up business wanting to look overseas straight-away or a well established company that has saturated the UK market, this event is for you. It will cover the export of both products and services.