Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement announcement of £45m for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will help get UK firms exporting, according to its chief executive Nick Baird.
Some £10m of these funds will be used to target an extra 500 medium-sized businesses across the country each year to encourage them to export.
Less than a quarter of the estimated 10,000 medium-sized firms in the UK export, and most of those that do are already receiving help from UKTI, the department said.
The remaining £35m in funding announced this week will be used to help double the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) helped by UKTI each year to export to 50,000. Part of this will be spent in increasing the number of trade advisors available, and extending export support programmes from small firms to medium-sized firms.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in a report last month said that £20bn could be generated for the British economy if British SMEs built up their presence outside Europe, said UKTI. The report compared the UK’s performance to that of Germany where firms had been winning market share in emerging markets and increasing their exports.
Speaking from China, where he is seeing at first hand how SMEs can increase exports to this fast-growing market, Baird said: “I strongly welcome the SME export support package announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement.
“This very much responds to calls from the Confederation of British Industry, British Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors and others to increase the support UK Trade & Investment provides.
“The funding will put a special focus on support for mid-sized businesses as part of our suite of support services for businesses of all sizes and sectors; and help us to develop closer partnerships with Chambers of Commerce, Trade Associations and Local Enterprise Partnerships.
“These new initiatives will help us with our declared aim to double to 50,000 the number of companies we support each year, as part of the Government’s drive to get 100,000 new companies exporting.”
UKTI said more businesses will be able to access programmes such as Passport to Export, which is designed to get firms new to export to start selling overseas. The programme allocates a trade advisor to a company who links into UKTI’s network in around 100 countries to help identify the appropriate markets, find the right people to talk to within these markets, set up meetings and identify the appropriate trade fairs.
Funds will also be used for Gateway to Global Growth, a programme for experienced exporters that can encourage them to expand to high growth markets such as those in Asia, Africa and Latin America, said the department.
The expansion of these programmes will enable many more medium-sized businesses to access this support, it said.
UKTI works alongside UK Export Finance, which this year launched new products that can help firms of all sizes to insure against the risk of non-payment overseas or to secure working capital to fulfil large export orders.