New strategy sets challenge to boost exports to £1 trillion

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The Government today (November 17) launches a new ‘Made in the UK, Sold to the World’ plan to help businesses across the UK double exports and sell their world class products around the globe.

The 12-point export strategy by the Department for International Trade (DIT) aims to give businesses the tools they need to become a nation of exporters and reap the benefits of our free trade deals.

It includes an Export Support Service that offers a one-stop shop for exporting advice, and the launch of a new UK Tradeshow Programme better-tailored to help businesses, particularly those outside London and the South East, to attend and promote their products around the world.

DIT will also be expanding its Export Academy – launched in October – to roll it out across all of the UK including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The academy will invite owners and managers of SMEs to access masterclasses, roundtables and networking events that help them overcome common challenges first time exporters face.

The UK exported £600bn in goods and services last year, but only around one in 10 GB businesses currently export – with the number of goods exporters falling behind continental competitors like Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is calling on businesses to ‘Race to a Trillion’ by seizing huge untapped opportunities on offer in the world’s fast growing markets. She said: “This is a defining moment in our national trading story. As we agree ambitious new trade deals around the world, it is more vital than ever that businesses across the UK take advantage of these opportunities and unleash their full exporting potential.”

This week, DIT is running the inaugural International Trade Week, featuring a series of more than 100 events and workshops across the country hosted by expert trade advisors aimed to help businesses to take advantage of the export support available to them.

Minister for Exports, Mike Freer, said: “We know businesses are at different points on their exporting journey. Some are already successful exporters but want to sell more products or reach new markets. Others are yet to take the leap and export for the first time. Whatever your story, our tailored support, expertise and international network is here and ready to help you maximise your ambitions and sell to the world.”

The 12-point strategy includes:

  • Launching the ‘Made in the UK, Sold to the World’ campaign, championing the UK’s priority sectors through an innovative, localised marketing campaign that will promote the best of British goods and services in our towns and cities.
  • The Export Support Service provides a single point of contact for exporters to Europe. Since launching in October the new export hotline and online service has helped hundreds of businesses to get exporting.
  • UK Export Academy expansion to offer SMEs in all parts of the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the chance to learn how to navigate the technicalities of exporting and how to find new opportunities in overseas markets.
  • A new UK Tradeshow Programme will be bigger and better targeted to give UK companies, especially SMEs, a leg up to exhibit their products at the world’s biggest tradeshows.
  • UK Export Finance, our world-leading export credit agency, will expand its offer with new products and a wider delivery network that will make it easier for UK exporters to secure business from overseas buyers.
  • Export Champions, ensuring businesses can build and learn from exporting successes through business-to-business networking and peer-to-peer learning.
  • Internationalisation Fund, open to SMEs in England, will aim to grow international sales, and has facilitated £4m of support to SMEs attending trade fairs.

CBI president, Lord Karan Bilimoria, said: “The UK economy is at an inflection point. While current challenges in global trade persist and business continue to adjust to the UK’s new relationship with the EU, firms need to have an eye to future opportunities. The Government has stepped up to provide greater practical support for exporters, and we now need to work together to get more British businesses thinking global for growth.”

British Chambers of Commerce director general, Shevaun Haviland, said: “More than 60% of chamber members export overseas compared to just 10% of all businesses UK-wide. To turn the UK into the global economic powerhouse it deserves to be that has to change, and the launch of the DIT’s export strategy is a really positive step toward making that happen.”

Mike Cherry

And Mike Cherry, national chair of the Blackpool-based Federation of Small Businesses, said: “As the voice of the UK’s small business community, FSB has been pleased to help develop today’s Export Strategy. For too long small firms have been faced with difficulty getting onto the exporting ladder, so we’re pleased to see many of these fundamental issues tackled head on in this export plan.

“In our recent export report, we proposed simplifying how small firms can export, improving access to tradeshows support service and information on FTAs, as well as boosting trade skills.

“These will go a long way to seeing the numbers of exporters rise. Increasing small business exports will drive prosperity and growth, protecting the economic recovery from COVID.

“The Government is hoping to reach £1 trillion in exports target by 2030, but without small businesses, this may be unachievable, which is why the success of this strategy is so important.

“The announcement of plans to launch a new an Export Council to ensure the smooth and efficient implementation of this strategy is especially welcome. It’s vital that the voices of the hundreds of thousands of small exporters across the UK are heard by this body.”