By Daniel Hunter

Businesses and Government are working together to help more companies boost their overseas sales, as the UK’s first ever Export Week launches today (Monday).

Focussing on small and medium sized companies, Export Week will give British businesses access to support from experts with experience in over 70 countries, unlocking the chance to boost sales overseas.

Local speakers will share their experiences of working overseas as more than 100 events will take place over the next five days to help businesses export.

Export Week 2012 is taking place exactly one year after the Prime Minister set a national challenge to raise the number of small businesses that export from one in five to one in four.

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green said: “Through Export Week, we want to further strengthen the momentum of the national challenge and reach as many businesses as we can with information about the support available for selling their products and services.

“The UK’s future prosperity will not come from relying on domestic markets alone. We want to make sure that UK firms are not just trading abroad but thriving there and competing with the best the rest of the world has to offer.

“UK Trade & Investment has a crucial role to play and we are pursuing an ambitious programme to double the number of businesses we help by 2015. We are working in new markets and with new exporters from across Britain to make sure they have every opportunity to realise their potential.”

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “To kick start growth, it’s vital more firms expand into fast-growing markets. We have made some inroads, but must take advantage of the wealth of business opportunities out there.

“Small and medium-sized firms have a critical role to play in boosting the UK’s export performance and we’ve recently estimated a potential prize of £30 billion up for grabs.

“Export Week will help give them the confidence to make this a reality, giving firms the tools they need to expand their business abroad.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “As the premier private sector providers of international trade support to companies the length and breadth of the UK, accredited Chambers of Commerce are proud to support Export Week 2012.

“We know from experience that small and medium-sized companies are flourishing as they enter new markets across the globe, and we stand ready to work with UKTI and with colleagues in British Chambers of Commerce overseas, to offer practical advice and real help both to new exporters and to experienced companies looking to export even more.”

Any company wanting to take part in Export Week can get involved by visiting the dedicated website at which gives details of events in each area.

Previous experience shows that more than half of British businesses who work with UKTI secure additional sales of £600,000 within two years, and new research released today shows that UKTI’s regional network is delivering substantial benefits to firms across the country.

A survey of 600 businesses reveals that between 2010 and 2012, firms that received UKTI support showed a 5.5 per cent annual increase in turnover. The benefits of exporting are not confined to large companies, as 90% of those who work with UKTI are small and medium-sized enterprises.

Export Week will also promote the recently launched ‘Open to Export’ Service, a free online community that gives small businesses the guidance and in-depth information they need to expand their business abroad.

Through Open to Export, companies can access practical information on export topics, connect and engage with a range of exporters and explore the latest international opportunities for their business. In addition to accessing government advice, through international trade advisors based at British embassies and high commissions, companies can also receive support from existing and prospective exporters, lawyers, accountants and independent trade advisors.

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