By Daniel Hunter

Businesses across the South West looking to trade internationally have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience and insight into two of the world’s emerging markets and fastest growing economies.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) South West is organising trade missions to South Africa and Vietnam this winter. The overseas visits aim to inform companies about the economies and business cultures of the countries, so commercial opportunities in these markets can be explored and developed.

To help local businesses seize these opportunities, the trade missions are designed to assist companies that are either new to these potential export markets or businesses with an existing foothold that they wish to develop further. As part of the missions, delegates will have access to tailored market research and will also have the opportunity to meet with prospective partners and distributors.

The UK is one of South Africa's most significant trading partners, with over £7 billion in two-way trade in goods and services. With a climate that is geared for growth and open for trade, it’s the ideal destination for businesses that are either new to international trade or experienced exporters.

South Africa has abundant natural resources, a business culture that is not too dissimilar from that of the UK, and good infrastructure with major capital injections. The country’s stock market is already in the world top 20, and has attracted major international investment, making it one of the most appealing emerging economies for trade. There are particular opportunities for businesses in advanced engineering, design, construction, rail, mining, chemicals, agri-technology, environment, power, education and skills, healthcare, sports and leisure infrastructure, creative industries and financial services.

With a population of almost 89 million and predicted GDP growth of 6.9 percent a year over the next four years, Vietnam represents an exciting market of increasing affluence. Bilateral trade increased by over 26 percent in 2011, with UK exports of goods and services to Vietnam reaching £520m.

Main UK exports include machinery and equipment, medical and pharmaceutical products and professional and scientific instruments. However, Vietnam offers many opportunities for UK businesses, including infrastructure, services, telecoms and retail.

Russell Jones, UKTI South West regional director, said: “Trade missions provide participants with unique access to high quality information, business contacts and officials that it would be virtually impossible to achieve alone.

“With good preparation and follow-up, missions can be great door-openers and participants can often achieve sales and sign contracts on a first visit if they have done their homework well.

“Participating in an organised trade mission is a great way to quickly get the feel and flavour of a country, and to determine if and where the opportunities lie. In short, there is also no better way to learn about the culture, customs and business environment than getting on a plane and seeing it for yourself.”

The trade mission to Vietnam will take place from 3 to 10 November and the South Africa trade mission will take place from 16 to 22 November. To help the region’s businesses, UKTI has teamed up with British Airways to offer a 25 percent discount to businesses booking flights over £600.

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness