By Daniel Hunter

Minister for Trade and Investment Francis Maude has today (Monday) announced a programme of expert advice and support to help companies expand into international markets for the first time, to mark the beginning of Export Week 2015.

The First Time Exporters initiative, which is run by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), is a new package of support which includes training and advice for companies selling overseas for the first time. This includes the opportunity to take part in trade missions to nearby markets to help them develop their first contacts with foreign buyers. It also helps companies who are considering exporting for the first time, to take advantage of digital opportunities, offering dedicated digital trade advisers and an online tool designed to assist their export planning.

UKTI is the Government department that helps UK-based companies sell overseas and assists overseas companies to bring investment to the UK. Last year UKTI supported nearly 48,000 companies, reporting additional sales of £49.1bn.

Export Week, which is devised and led by UKTI, will see over 1,500 businesses taking part in 70 events UK-wide aimed at inspiring them to start their export journey or increase their international business. The varied programme will include practical workshops and masterclasses, exporting clinics with UKTI specialists and networking opportunities, as well as digital support services such as webinars and Twitter talks.

Potential exporters are also currently being offered an outstanding platform to showcase their business to the world and maximise their full potential in international markets at the Milan Expo 2015, which launched on 1 May.

The UK Pavilion has hosted around 100,000 visitors since launch. As part of UKTI’s Grown in Britain global business programme, companies participating in Expo will be able to meet global buyers who have the potential to become valuable export partners. UKTI aims that business activity linked to Milan Expo will deliver £1 billion economic benefit to the UK over time.

Trade and Investment Minister Francis Maude said: “We hope that the launch of First Time Exporters will encourage more companies to take their first steps on the export journey and take advantage of the demand for British goods and services that exists overseas. With the Milan Expo bringing the world to our doorstep and Export Week just beginning, there has never been a better time for British businesses to realise their potential and find overseas customers.

“Last year we saw 48,000 companies draw on UKTI support; these businesses went on to create or safeguard 220,440 additional jobs. I would urge businesses of all sizes to use this opportunity to find out more about the services that are available to them through UKTI, regardless of their level of exporting experience.”