Ian Harrison, Head of Exports – Department for International Trade in the Midlands
We talk to Ian Harrison, Head of Exports for the Department for International Trade in the Midlands, about why exports are a critical part of our economy and what resources are available to help us seize overseas opportunities.
What Is The Race To A Trillion?
UK exports are due to hit £1 trillion annually by the mid-2030s, but we want to hit that mark before then and are aiming for the end of the decade. Our export strategy – Made in the UK, Sold to the World sets out a range of support for both new and existing exporters that will accelerate that race and grow our economy through exports.
Increased support is targeted here in the Midlands, a region in which exports account for over £45bn or 20% of the UKs total, and we are continually expanding our global footprint in support of levelling up.
What Are The Benefits of Exporting?
There are many reasons to consider export as part of your growth strategy:
Exporting doesn’t have to be burdensome. The Internet, improved logistics channels, free trade agreements, eCommerce, and the array of available export assistance through the Department for International Trade (DIT) and our partners has made exporting more achievable; that’s true for even the smallest of businesses.
Britain has a global reputation for excellence. From locally produced food and drink to advanced engineering, our businesses are known around the world for their focus on high quality, innovative goods and services, customer service, and sound business practices. The Midlands itself is home to some of the world’s most successful companies like Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover, whose innovation, expertise, and ingenuity have driven UK trade and exports for over a century.
If your domestic market seems saturated for your goods or services, introduce them to other parts of the world. Companies that export to multiple markets have greater potential to ride out fluctuations in the economy, being less dependent on any single market.
Exporting is likely to make your business more profitable, competitive, and innovative. Businesses who actively seek out new opportunities to export their goods see faster and more substantial growth, are more productive and often generate higher profits. They are also good for the UK economy because they help to create more jobs.
Is Exporting Just For Big Business?
Exporting is an option regardless of the size of your business. For example, our newly launched UK Export Academy has been introduced to support smaller businesses increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to start selling products and services all over the world. Whether you’re looking to sell internationally for the first time or planning to grow in more markets, the academy helps you to overcome common challenges.
“At first thinking about exporting can be daunting, but it’s not as difficult as it at first seems. There’s a lot of help out there.” Aarti Parmar, Co-founder, Extravaganza
The Export Support Service is a new government helpline and online service where all UK businesses can get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. You can use this free service, no matter the size of your business or which part of the UK you are based. The ESS has recently expanded to respond to queries from companies trading with the Ukraine and Russia.
“As a relatively small business we no longer have any qualms about exporting anywhere in the world” Dave Gilbert, Managing Director, Pretorian Technologies
What Other Resources Are Available?
Companies can benefit from a range of DIT resources from international, regional, and local partners, such as access to DIT’s global network of embassies, High Commissions, and consulates in more than 100 international markets. Here in the Midlands as a result of Levelling-Up funding, we also have regional overseas specialists located in key international markets like India, Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe who actively support our regional businesses in high growth sectors win business.
“DIT can open doors for us that a commercial partner just can’t do.” Mark Davies – International Sales Manager, Ariane Medical
Our International Trade Advisers (ITAs), who are the fulcrum of our support, are also on hand to provide free expert export advice and a range of customised export solutions including help with developing your export strategy, introductions to potential overseas business partners and connections to a wide range of support for exporting issues.
“If I have questions about anything export related, I can just get in touch with my ITA and pick her brains – it’s always good to have a second opinion.” James Buchanan, Export Manager, Thornbridge Brewery
Can Finance Be A Limiting Factor?
Of course, when it comes to exporting, having a great product or service is only half the story. Putting the right finance and insurance in place can make the difference, helping you to win contracts, fulfil orders and get paid. UK Export Finance (UKEF) is on hand to provide the support that you need, working in partnership with banks and brokers to help your businesses realise their ambitions and get your deals over the line.
Is It The Right Time For Businesses To Be Considering International Trade?
Absolutely, now is a pivotal moment for UK exporters. We have a unique opportunity of utilising our new international trade policy and newly negotiated UK trade agreements. Exports support millions of jobs, enable small businesses to increase their productivity, contribute significantly to business profits and extends the UK’s economic ties across the globe. Here at DIT we are determined to make exporting easier for UK business, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic of the last two years, and our export plan lays the groundwork for UK exporters to thrive.
I am very grateful to my great friend Ninder for allowing me to share these few words with you. If you would like to know more about the free support available to get your business exporting, please contact us here at: www.great.gov.uk.