West firms are being urged to renew efforts to do business overseas and take advantage of high-level export support available following disappointing trade figures.
Business West director Clive Wray, who has responsibility for running the contract for the Government’s trade-boosting body UKTI in the South West, said although the prospect of trading internationally could be daunting, expert advisers could help every step of the way.
“We want to see more companies considering international trading,” said Mr Wray, pictured, who was awarded the OBE for services to small businesses and international trade in the New Year Honours.
“I would advise companies to put effort into growing their business overseas and take advantage of the many opportunities out there while Business West continues to work hard with UKTI to help ensure they have all the support they need to succeed.
“Business West and UKTI can play an instrumental role in helping companies flourish in these markets and mitigate the risk of exporting by providing access to essential knowledge and expertise.
His comments came after UK trade figures for November 2013 showed a small fall in the trade deficit.
“These figures are disappointing, and indicate a large deficit in the fourth quarter,” he said. “However, it is not entirely surprising – our economy is growing at a faster pace than those of our major trading partners in Western Europe, and imports tend to increase in such circumstances.
“According to the quarterly figures from HM Revenue & Customs issued in December, the value of exports from the South West increased by 6.3%, to £13.46bn in the year to September 2013. But despite the annual improvement, the region saw a 3.3% drop in the value of exports from the previous quarter, to £3.32bn.
“Boosting exports must be an economic priority, particularly when it comes to diversifying our exports towards faster-growing economies outside the EU. Even within Europe, there is scope to do this, as central and eastern European economies such as Poland are growing faster than our traditional trading partners.
“More support for SMEs looking to trade internationally is needed and this means giving UK businesses more resources in areas such as trade finance, insurance and promotion.”