Government launches new export strategy to boost British businesses

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International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP, has launched a new export strategy, with the ambitious objective of making Britain a 21st century exporting superpower.

This comes as the government continues to roll out sector deals as part of the Industrial Strategy, boosting jobs and growth in the areas where the UK has a competitive edge.

Research shows that companies that export have increased growth potential, are more productive and have better paid jobs.

Last year £620 billion of goods and services exported by British companies accounted for 30 per cent of UK GDP, with UK exports at a record high.

However, the Department for International Trade estimates that 400,000 businesses believe they could export but don’t, while demand for British expertise and goods overseas is only growing.

The government’s long-term ambition is to increase total exports as a proportion of GDP to 35 per cent.

The Export Strategy outlines how the government will produce more tailored support to UK companies including using the stories of successful exporters as part of a marketing drive.

New measures include developing into a single digital platform for both domestic business growth and export support and working with large companies to help build the capability of UK supply chains. It will also assess financial incentives and signposting as a means to support SMEs access new markets and private sector export support.

New measures include support for businesses looking to invest overseas and developing an online tool enabling businesses to submit non-tariff barriers they face.

Launching an awareness campaign to target UK exporters most likely to benefit from up to £50 billion worth of export finance and insurance support from UKEF, and promoting UKEF support in overseas markets to help UK companies and consortia win contracts.

In a speech to a business audience in London, International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP said:

“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.

“As we leave the EU, we must set our sights high and that is just what this Export Strategy will help us achieve.”

Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department of International Trade, said: “Since its creation 2 years ago, DIT has already helped thousands of UK companies to export – with exports now at a record high.

“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.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “The CBI strongly supports the ambition to make exports 35% of GDP, which will put the UK out in front of many of our international competitors. We estimate that in every region of the country there are around 10% of businesses that could export, but don’t, and we look forward to working alongside the government to support and inspire them to seize the opportunity.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Dialing up the intensity of UK trade – both close to home and further afield – will be the cornerstone of our future economic success.”

Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “The government deserves credit for investing time and effort in working with business to draw up this strategy, and we are delighted that a number of the IoD’s recommendations have been incorporated.”

In a series of high-profile appointments by the department, earlier this year DIT appointed former Barclays head of corporate banking John Mahon as the UKs first Director General for Exports, to lead the implementation of the strategy.

And former Citgroup banking vice-chairman Mark Slaughter was appointed in June as Director General for Investment, to lead a drive to attract more investment into the UK.