The UK needs and independent and national 'Exports Commission' in order to turn around the country's international trade performance in a serious way, according to a new report from business lobby group, the CBI.
The report calls for the government to set up a body similar to the Low Pay Commission, or recently established Infrastructure Commission, to boost the UK's exports. Critically, the CBI says an Exports Commission would bring together businesses - from multinationals to growing medium-sized businesses (MSBs) and fire time exporters - economists, and a cross-party bench of politicians to give independent advice to the government on long-term export targets and the policies needed to deliver them.
The CBI also calls for a “one stop shop” of joined-up government support and advice for exporters on a single, easily navigable website. More than a quarter (28%) of MSBs – the UK’s prime potential exporters – are put off selling their goods and services overseas because of the difficulty in identifying the right opportunities.
Simon Moore, the CBI's international director, said: "Britain's robust economic recovery has been the envy of many of our international peers, but our export performance has struggled to keep up the pace.
"It's vital that our future prosperity is not compromised by political point-scoring. An independent, national Exports Commission, bringing together for the first time exports and politicians to create targets and policies, would provide firms with long-term certainty over government policy and put business feedback at the heat of decisions over future priorities.
"A more commercially focused UKTI, coupled with a joined-up approach to export policy and support right across government - which we have long called for - will lead to more firms, especially growing ones, moving their goods and services around the globe."
Also included in the report are calls for the creation of two new export finance products to plug the gap in trade finance for small and MSB exporters. The CBI also wants to protect the "sharp end" of business support overseas, which is provided by embassies and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
It also called for more innovative collaboration between UKTI and businesses to improve the commercial awareness of its staff, and foster knowledge sharing between them.