Our Director General, Lesley Batchelor OBE, yesterday spoke alongside Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department for International Trade, on a panel run by Westminster think tank ‘Reform’. The discussion was titled ‘From potential to reality – promoting exports through a new partnership between government and industry’ and it looked at practical steps that have been and need to be taken towards fulfilling the government’s ‘Export Strategy’, which aims to boost exports as percentage of UK GDP from 30% to 35%.
Held at Barclays’ Canary Wharf offices, the panel also featured Barclays’ Global Head of Trade and Working Capital, Karl Trumper, alongside Mike Mullen, Operations Director at Jankel Armouring. The discussion was chaired by Andrew Haldenby, Director at Reform.
Baroness Fairhead highlights the Institute’s role in the Export Strategy
Analysing the current relationship between government and industry, Baroness Fairhead was keen to highlight the work being done by the Institute in professionalising the skills and expertise needed to export successfully. She noted that more needs to be done to join up the efforts of government and industry in supporting the UK’s exporters, but noted that government needs to take the lead when it comes to removing non-tariff barriers to trade.
Lesley Batchelor OBE was keen to highlight how the Institute is contributing towards each of the 4 core elements of the government’s Export Strategy – encouraging more businesses to export, equipping them with the knowledge to do so successfully, helping to connect them with opportunities, and supporting them to finance their international strategies. Lesley was keen to highlight the Institute’s work with government departments like HMRC to improve awareness around customs compliance in preparation for Brexit, and also stressed the need for more businesses to have proper international terms and conditions when exporting to new markets.
Mike Mullen from Jankel Armouring spoke about the support he’s had from UK Export Finance and Barclays towards winning and fulfilling international contracts, while Karl Trumper from Barclays finished off the discussion by noting the expanding support Barclays is providing to businesses of all sizes.
More to be done, but lots being done as well
It was an intriguing event, full of ideas and optimism around the potential for UK exports in the future, despite the Brexit uncertainty that could easily have overshadowed such an event at the time. Research from Reform has suggested that more collaboration is needed between government and industry if the Export Strategy is to succeed, but based on the evidence of this panel discussion, we shouldn’t discard the fact that work is already being done to this end.