By Daniel Hunter
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) hosted its first annual International Trade Conference in central London yesterday (Thursday). In his speech to delegates, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green, said that exports should be increased to 40% of UK GDP, and that exporting is ‘not just good for Britain’, but that it is ‘essential for Britain’.
In a stark message to the UK, he explained that after 50 years of trade deficits, we run the risk of an unsustainable economy as this cannot be funded by the government for much longer.
“We are really encouraged by some of the comments made by Lord Green, as we believe that exports are going to be vital to any sustainable recovery in the UK," John Longworth, Director General of the BCC, said.
"In Germany, exports make up 46% of GDP, so there is no reason why with the right support, we can’t hit the 40% target here in the UK.
“We are pleased that the government wants Chambers to play an increasingly important role in promoting international trade overseas. The BCC already has strong relationships with Chambers of Commerce around the world, and we will continue to work with colleagues to help British firms break into new markets.
"But the government needs to provide sufficient funding to British Chambers overseas as a platform for practical help for businesses looking to export if we are to compete with countries such as Germany, France and Italy who are already doing this for their exporters.
“But we are running out of time, and action needs to be taken immediately to help kick-start export growth if we want to see a bright future for our children and grandchildren. Businesses have the right attitude. They want to grow and break into new and evolving markets, but they need the right support in order to do this.
"The latest report by the BCC and DHL shows that more than a third of companies increased their export sales in the last three months, and while this is encouraging, the figure is down on the previous quarter. The government must intervene and help new and potential exporters increase orders and expand into fast-growing markets.
“If the government is serious about exporting, ministers should create an export voucher scheme. There are unspent funds available that have been allocated according to government priorities, not business needs. Businesses, not government, are best placed to decide which services they need most to help them boost exports overseas.”
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