By Daniel Hunter

A new service providing practical support for UK businesses to export to high growth markets in South East Asia was unveiled today (Thursday).

The Headstart initiative will help small and medium sized businesses seeking to export to these markets for the first time, offering:

- Access to local business networks.
- Introductions to already established UK companies.
- Temporary office space with local British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) representation.
- Ongoing access to BCC staff.

The service is a partnership between UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) and the British Chambers of Commerce in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

Headstart will initially be offered as a 6 month pilot which, if successful, will be expanded to other markets in South East Asia.

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green said:

“Many more British companies could be exporting, but we know that striking out into new and unfamiliar markets can sometimes look daunting. Headstart will help small and medium sized companies seize the many opportunities in fast growing economies of South East Asia by connecting them with local support quickly.

“We want to see another 100,000 businesses exporting by 2020 and helping more small firms to do so is vital to securing a return to long-term and sustainable growth.”

Chairman of the UK-ASEAN Business Council Lord Davies of Abersoch said:

“I am delighted that Lord Green announced the Headstart pilot at the UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) Annual Conference today. This pilot is a perfect example of the practical support which the UKABC is providing to UK small and medium sized enterprises, enabling them to make the most of opportunities in South East Asia.

“There are many more British businesses who could be exporting to South East Asia and we’re here to support them as they take that first step on the ladder.”

British Chambers of Commerce Executive Director, Indonesia, Chris Wren said:

“The local Chambers are pleased to participate in this initiative, being able to put on the ground expertise and connections as well as existing infrastructure to good use for UK small and medium sized enterprises.”

Building on a model developed by UKTI’s delivery partner in China, the China Britain Business Council, Headstart is initially being piloted in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia and its benefit will be evaluated before a decision is made on whether it is to be rolled out to other countries in the region.

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