Govt launches strategy to support UK exports

Posted on 10 May 2011 by The Manufacturer

Starting today UK businesses will receive further support from government in their bid to become more competitive and expand to overseas markets.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green today announced the next step of the Government’s strategy to help the British economy grow.

The plan includes the UK Trade & Investment Strategy and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office seven-point Charter.

With the aim to make the UK more competitive, UKTI will actively seek out overseas investors, help UK companies expand into overseas markets and work more closely with key British companies.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Today, we’re announcing practical help for UK companies to ensure they win business overseas. And we’re setting out how we will actively attract inward investment to the UK with ambitious plans to target sovereign wealth funds and expand the global entrepreneur programme.”

Nine out of 10 UKTI customers are small or medium-sized companies, the type of business that most struggle getting access to foreign markets, and it is hoped that the Government’s plan will be able to tackle this issue.

According to John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, almost a quarter of the federation’s members currently export, and a further 12 per cent would consider exporting in the future. “For many small firms, the challenges of finding customers and the red tape around doing business abroad is a major concern and today’s announcement will help small businesses lead an export led recovery,” he said.

The White Paper published in February set out the Government’s plans to rebalance the economy through an ambitious framework for trade and investment. UKTI’s Strategy and FCO’s Charter are the next step in this process.

Commenting on the Charter, Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “The Charter for Business is part of our commitment to inject a new commercialism into the Foreign Office, using our international influence to help British businesses secure new trade opportunities.”

Rees Ward, chief executive of A|D|S, said: “The UK economy needs growth in exports in order to speed up its recovery from recession and aerospace, defence, security and space are precisely the right type of high-tech, high-value and long-term sectors to deliver for the country’s needs. In addition to these economic benefits, the Government’s emphasis on commercial diplomacy in these sectors will help to fulfil the country’s national security objectives.”

Some of the measure Government is likely to adopt under the new strategy are bringing more private sector expertise into its relationship with exporters and inward investors; developing new partnerships with key businesses which support SMEs; creating a new online self-help community for UK SME exporters; and establishing a new Strategy Task Force, with members drawn from the most innovative UK-based companies.

These actions will help to develop new ways of relating to businesses, with a renewed focus on partnerships with the private sector to boost productivity and improve performance.

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, welcomed the new Government-wide strategy to boost exports. Steve Radley, director of policy, said it can help “many innovative small and medium size businesses play a larger role on the globla stage”. However, Radley also warned: “this focus must not be at the expense of larger companies with deep supply chains. The proposed Ministerial relationships must ensure the flagship benefits that large company exports provide remain high on the list of government priorities.”