Chancellor George Osborne delivered a major boost to the region’s exporters in his Budget today by announcing the amount of lending available to the UK firms doing business overseas will be doubled to £3bn.
Interest rates charged on that lending will also be cut by a third, he said.
And he gave some help to exporters – as well as the region’s vital tourist industry – by reducing air passenger duty on some routes, including to the important business destinations of India and China.
Mr Osborne said: “Britain has to up its game on exports. Instead of having the least competitive export finance in Europe, we will have the most competitive.
“We’re not going to have a secure economic future if Britain doesn’t earn its way in the world. We need our businesses to export more, build more, invest more and manufacture more.
“Our exports have grown each year and the Office of Budget Responsibility today forecast rising export growth in the future.”
He said the UK’s combined goods exports to Brazil, India and China had risen faster than those of competitors. “But we’re starting from a low base and we’ve got many lost years to catch up,” he said.
“For decades the British government has been the last port of call, when we should be backing British businesses wanting to sell abroad. “
The Air Passenger Duty reforms ended the “crazy system where you pay less tax travelling to Hawaii than you do travelling to China or India”, he said.
“It hits exports, puts off tourists and creates a great sense of injustice among our Caribbean and South Asian communities here in Britain.”
From next year all long haul flights will carry the same, lower, band B tax rate that passengers now pay to fly to the United States.
He added: “Private jets were not taxed at all under the previous government. Today they are, and I’m increasing the charge so they pay more.”
To make sure all parts of the country enjoyed better links with the markets of the future the Government will provide start-up support for new routes from regional airports, like Liverpool, Leeds and Inverness. he said.
“More support for businesses; competitive finance; cheaper global flights. I want the message to go out that we are backing our exporters – so that wherever you are around the world you can’t fail to see: Made in Britain.”