By Marcus Leach
Lord Green, Minister for Trade and Investment, yesterday (Tuesday) stressed the importance of whole business community, including banks, accountancy and legal firms, trade networks and other business intermediaries, in supporting the government in persuading more firms to export their goods and services.
Speaking at the South East regional National Challenge: Exporting for Growth event, organised by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and sponsored by HSBC and PwC, Lord Green reiterated David Cameron's pledge to get 100,000 small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) exporting within the next five years.
Before Lord Green's call to arms, Adrian White of Biwater Holdings Ltd, highlighted the lack of export from UK companies. This further pressed home the need for the business world to get behind those firms wishing to enter the export market.
"We export more to Ireland than we do to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations combined," White said.
"Which when you consider there are four million people in Ireland and a total of 2.8 billion people in the BRIC nations is quite alarming. The marketplace there is 700 times bigger, yet we are not making the most of it."
Following on from that Lord Green explained how we, as a country, need to change the trend of trade and export.
"Trade has been a drag on growth for too many years, instead of a contributor to growth," he said. "We have to turn that around, that is our national challenge.
"There are world-class businesses out there who could be exporting, and others who could be spreading their wings further. We want to attract an additional 100,000 SMEs into international trade.
"This is truly a national challenge — it can’t be done by government alone, and the other key contributors, both well represented here today, are the business intermediaries, the trusted advisers and supporters of SMEs, who can encourage them to look at opportunities in emerging markets, for example, and of course the companies themselves.
“This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, but together we can do it — and if we care about growth and job creation, we have to."
The event at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey, was the latest in a series of regional events to highlight the importance of export for the UK's economy.
Marcus Leach reporting from Weybridge
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