400,000 British businesses believe they have the capability to export goods, but are not doing so, whilst at the same time, international demand for British goods is growing, the government revealed yesterday.
Dr Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary has used these figures; and the news that British overseas exports have grown by £26 billion year on year; to reinforce his belief that British exports can meet his target of contributing 35% to UK GDP, after the UK leaves the EU at the end of March next year.
Last year British companies sold some £620 billion worth of goods to overseas buyers, which accounted for 30% of GDP; a record high, according to the Department for International Trade. The government is keen to build on this recent success, and has responded to calls from businesses with a new Export Strategy that will look to encourage and inspire more businesses to export, place “increased focus on amplifying the voice of existing exporters”, “facilitate peer-to-peer learning, and “inform businesses by providing information, advice and practical assistance on exporting.”
The government will work on converting its Greatgov.uk website into a one-stop-shop for exporters, helping to connect UK based businesses with overseas clients, working with larger companies to build the capability of supply lines, providing financial incentives, and supporting SMEs as they enter new markets.
The Department for International Trade also wants to launch an awareness campaign to alert British businesses to an estimated £50 billion of export finance and insurance support available from the UK Export Finance organisation, as well as 250 International Trade Advisors based all over the UK who support what the government refer to as “Export Champions”, and invite more companies to join the nationwide network of exporters, using the slogan “if we can, you can”.
Dr Fox told reporters in a speech that “as we leave the EU, we must set our sights high and that is just what this Export Strategy will help us achieve”, adding that “UK businesses are superbly placed to capitalise on the rapid changes in the global economic environment and I believe the UK has the potential to be a 21st century exporting superpower.
Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department of International Trade, also commented that “As the world’s sixth largest exporter, we do punch above our weight, however, we also punch below our potential. This Export Strategy sets out to change that and to increase exports as a proportion of GDP from 30% to 35%, taking us from the middle of the G7 to near the top. This is ambitious, but achievable.”
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