By Daniel Hunter

Against the backdrop of better than expected GDP figures last week, the judges for the 2012 International Trade Awards, sponsored by American Express Foreign Exchange Services, met in London to decide on the winners of the prestigious awards.

Last week Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green, who introduced last year’s gala lunch and awards, said that "exporting is ‘not just good for Britain’, but that it is ‘essential for Britain’."

The economy's return to growth has shown that, in the face of adversity, British companies are capable of exceptional achievements and the 2012 International Trade Awards will recognise and reward the very best of these businesses.

The judging panel for the awards, consisting of Lesley Batchelor, Director General of the Institute of Export, Parveen Thornhill, Director London UKTI, Rocco Magno, General Manager at American Express and Allan Biggar, CEO of Xperia Media, were all impressed with the standard of applications.

"The standard was incredibly high, particularly for the main award where the judges were torn between some very impressive entries. There were some very difficult choices to make," said Rocco Magno.

"It is pleasing to see such a high standard across the board as it shows that there is real hope for the economy, and that there are a huge number of excellent businesses out there."

Whilst the economy is recovering there is no hiding from the fact that trading conditions remain tough, although many of the companies shortlisted proved that with the right attitude and determination these barriers can be overcome.

"I think like any business the environment is still difficult but it's certainly an improving picture this year," added Magno. "We would hope that this will continue into 2013 and growth will continue to build."

Applicants are competing in four categories, the Small to Medium Sized Company of the Year Award, Excellence in Innovation Award, New Frontiers Award and Company of the Year Award, with the winners to be announced at the International Trade Awards lunch at the Brewery, London, on December 10th.

The winners of the awards will be featured in International Trade Today magazine, which launched this week. International Trade Today combines the latest insight into trading on a global scale with in-depth analysis of leading global market places. To read International Trade Today visit http://issuu.com/internationaltradetoday/docs/october2012