By Daniel Hunter

Plans to develop British business networks in high growth and emerging markets took a further step forward today (Friday).

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green convened a conference of representatives of 20 overseas business networks, UK business organisations and Local Enterprise Partnerships, the first of its kind. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is working with them to build stronger business-to-business support services in twenty priority markets.

The first £1.1 million business-led, pan-India network was announced today, led by the UK-India Business Council, with support from India-based British business groups.

By the end of March the government plans to have agreed partnerships with business groups in a quarter of the 20 markets, half by the end of April and the rest by the end of June.

“Britain needs more businesses to get exporting to the fast growing nations of the world — it’s a vital part of our plan for growth. But we need to make taking the first step into an offshore market much less challenging for small and medium-sized exporters," Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green said.

“British overseas business networks have traditionally not supported exporters to anywhere near the extent that our European and other major competitors have and we must close this gap. We need a vibrant network of British business groups supporting UK SMEs abroad, particularly in our priority markets.”

The range of support offered by these networks will vary according business need and could include for instance mentoring, office space, familiarisation visits and market introductions.

'Open to Export' http://opentoexport.com/ is a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) initiative in partnership with hibu plc (formerly Yell Group).

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