Expanding into a new market can be a daunting experience for any business, particularly if this involves targeting emerging markets where the path of UK exporters is less well worn.

There is a whole host of legislative and logistical challenges that exporting can throw up for a company that simply wouldn’t exist in domestic trading, but this shouldn’t put businesses off. The potential benefits for both individual companies and for the wider UK economy far outweigh the risks, and if we are to become a net exporting country then we need to ensure that government, business organisations and businesses themselves are all able to support our current and potential exporters.

To lay the ground work for UK exporters, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Chamber network has been growing our Global Business Network to deliver real, practical and sustainable support to UK exporters around the world. No other business organisation has the same local and international footprint, infrastructure, or the entrepreneurial flexibility needed to help small and medium-sized companies meet their export and trade ambitions.

The Global Business Network is a dynamic and independent organisation with accredited Chambers in every nation and region of the UK, and in key markets around the world.

In real terms, for example, this would allow a business in Kent to go to their local Chamber to discuss how to start exporting, discover, thanks to market introduction sessions, that their products are in demand in Asia, and ultimately find a distributor in a market such as Malaysia through contacts at the relevant overseas Chamber.

The network represents thousands of businesses of all sizes and sectors globally, and is continuing to grow annually.

The success of this model is demonstrated by the fact that there are currently nearly 40 British Chambers of Commerce that are either accredited by the BCC or working towards accreditation, based in markets such as Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. The British Chambers of Commerce accreditation is a rigorous process, meaning that accredited organisations have been proven to deliver services for UK exporters to a very high quality, trusted standard.

In addition, to help raise awareness of the untapped potential in high growth overseas markets, the BCC is also holding its fourth annual International Trade Conference this November in London.

The event will bring together some of the UK’s most successful exporters, business leaders and trade associations, to highlight the export markets with the greatest growth potential over the next decade and equip UK businesses with the knowledge and contacts to successfully target them. Crucially, we want to be able to offer UK businesses the support and contacts they need to make the first steps in exploring new markets.

Members of the BCC Global Business Network will also be on hand to give practical advice to businesses on trading in their regions.

The best way to demystify the exporting process is to speak to businesses who have been through it themselves – both as first time exporters and as seasoned traders who have branched out into additional markets

In this way business groups like the Chamber network are ideally placed to help businesses by offering advice, access to peers, help in avoiding unnecessary mistakes and costs, and offering access to those who have been there and done it before. As our Global Business Network continues to grow and develop more and more of this kind of support will be on hand.

British businesses need to become successful exporters if we are to reverse our national trade deficit and continue to drive economic growth. We already have a significant competitive advantage in the global market place as one of the world’s largest exporters, with our well-established trading ties to most markets. British goods and services are both well-known and in demand globally, and we are committed to delivering real, practical and sustainable support to enable UK exporters to translate this potential into new and profitable trade links.

By David Riches Executive Director, Commercial, Trade and Marketing British Chambers of Commerce