This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

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The Institute hosted a regional trade summit in Cambridge last week and once again there was plenty of fascinating thought leadership on display.

While previous trade summits have had a strong focus on Brexit this summit included more discussion around the fundamentals of export including intellectual property, customs compliance and competency, and how positive marketing and trade show presence overseas can create opportunities for UK businesses.

Referencing Michael Portillo

The opening presentation came from summit sponsors Barclays with their Head of Trade and Working Capital Karl Trumper offering his views on how the next few years will pan out during the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU.

Up fresh and early following the Institute’s annual members’ dinner the night before, Karl referred to the dinner keynote speaker Michael Portillo’s remarks that despite the difficult and tortuous nature of negotiations, most talks such as these tend to begin and end with handshakes, compromise and a signed deal.

Opportunities and risk in emerging markets

The rest of the morning consisted of practical advice around the implications of selling into overseas markets and a look at some of the diverse markets out there.

Brook Horowitz reprised his presentation from the London World Trade Summit about managing corruption risk in emerging markets, with an update regarding the Paradise Papers story that has emerged since then.  Bryan Hyland from Sannam4, also a returner from London, followed and he once again spoke about the opportunities in India at the moment for UK businesses.

Practical support 

In terms of advice around the practicalities involved in doing trade, Jo Archer spoke about the work UK Export Finance do to support companies looking at new markets, Rob Affleck from Currency UK gave some tips around hedging currencies in order to stay on top of fluctuating currency rates, and Kelly Wren introduced some of the basics of Intellectual Property.

Customs competency and AEO

We were once again delighted to welcome Miles Vartan Consultancy to talk to the attendees about Advanced Economic Operators – a topic we believe to be of significant importance for the UK’s exporters. Holly Tonge from MVC gave an overview of what AEOs are and why it’s important for the UK to close the gap on its European partners in terms of getting more UK businesses attaining AEO status. 

Holly was followed by one of the most succinct but clear explanations of how customs works you’ll hear anywhere, given by Riaan de Lange from Grant Thornton.

For more information around why AEOs are important you can read our blog on customs competency.

Getting the message out there

Rounding off a compelling day of talks, Marcus Bates from UKTAG and Gordon Glenister from the British Promotional Merchandise Association both heralded the benefits of a positive and collaborative approach to trade.

They each spoke about the work they’ve done respectively helping companies grow internationally in the agriculture and promotional merchandise sectors and the challenges Brexit now poses them. Marcus in particular was keen to talk up the merits of using tradeshows to become internationally relevant.

Maximising the opportunities in international trade

As ever the summit was a great opportunity for networking and exchanging ideas around how to maximise the opportunities in international trade over the coming years.

Though Brexit is never far away from the discussion, the Cambridge summit featured plenty of practical and insightful advice about how UK companies can nonetheless thrive internationally in the near future.