By Maximilian Clarke

24 Members of Prime Minister David Cameron’s UK Business Ambassadors Network have endorsed a New Year message that supports the national challenge to increase the number of UK firms that export — from one in five, to one in four:

“As British Business Ambassadors, we are writing in support of the national challenge to increase the number of UK firms that export from one in five to one in four. If we can achieve this, it will generate billions for the UK economy and create tens of thousands of jobs.

“We know from experience the benefits that operating internationally can bring to a business. Competing against the best in the world makes a firm more productive, more profitable and more resilient.

“And British firms have what it takes to compete with the best.

“In international markets, the UK is known as a great place for innovation — with one of the best business environments in Europe, world-class talent and strong R&D.

“It’s great a place for the creative industries, science, medicine, engineering and technology, with TechCity taking off in London’s East End. And it’s great for culture, heritage and shopping — with tourism one of our major overseas earners.

“2011 has seen crisis in the Eurozone and slow growth in the US. There are still opportunities in these, our traditional markets, as many UK firms can testify. But there is increasing prosperity in other markets — China, India, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa — where people are clamouring for the goods and services that the UK is so good at producing.

“UK Trade & Investment was awarded an extra £45m in the Autumn Statement to help SMEs [small to mid-sized enterprises] export overseas, and UK Export Finance can now help firms of all sizes with insurance against the risk of not being paid on overseas contracts.

“2012 will bring a host of opportunities to British firms. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a showcase for the UK, bringing an estimated 44,000 international journalists to our shores.

“British business needs to match the ambition of Team GB. There is all to play for, at home and away.

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