On November 21st the Institute of Export & International Trade hosted its final World Trade Summit for 2018 at the University of Warwick’s International Manufacturing Centre. Following the theme for the 2018 programme of ‘Roadmap to Export Success’ many of the presentations focused on giving practical advice to companies looking to expand their export horizons in 2019.
With the summit taking place amid the height of uncertainty around the direction of Brexit, there were plenty of caveats being issued as well, with a major learning being that the only certainty for the near future is further uncertainty. Speakers outlined potential ramifications of the different outcomes for Brexit at the time – including a ‘no deal’ Brexit – and also advised delegates to look beyond Europe to markets like the USA as a way of mitigating risk.
An opportunity for our members to talk to each other
As with all of our regional summits in 2018, the speaker line-up mostly consisted of the Institute’s members, as our intention has been to create a platform for our members to talk about what they do and how they help fellow exporters. The summits are also an opportunity for members to engage directly with the Institute and our new Director of Special Projects, Jen Iatelese, was on hand to make the opening remarks.
Jen outlined some of the key activities undertaken by the Institute in 2018 – including its being recognised as a ‘Small Business Champion’ by the World Trade Organisation and International Chamber of Commerce – while also outlining some of the potential impacts of Brexit on our exporters.
Practical advice and tips for entering the US market
Frank Levene (Avitus Group) and Gary Baylis (Export Access) spoke of some of the opportunities and challenges for businesses looking to sell into the USA. Frank gave an overview of the cultural differences between the US and the UK and outlined the sheer scale of the US market, while Gary looked at the regulatory requirements and hurdles involved. Both had also previously spoken at our Bristol summit in July.
The summits always cover a broad range of the various practical elements that businesses involved in international trade need to be aware of – taxation and insurance being two of the most significant. Ian McKinney (Gallagher) gave an overview of some of the types of insurance that exporting businesses need to consider, including product liability, professional indemnity, and cargo. Laura Vanstone (SimplyVAT) then gave an overview of the cross-border VAT obligations that ecommerce sellers need to stay on top of.
Incoterms were also a key topic for the Coventry Summit. Roger Kagan (Dangerous Goods Safety Advisers Ltd) warned delegates about the dangers of assuming Ex Works will operate smoothly for every movement of goods across borders. He also spoke of the need for businesses to get advice when moving goods that are potentially liable for controls and licenses.
Support on hand for exporters in the Midlands
As ever there is plenty of support available for businesses looking to start exporting from the midlands. Jane Cooper outlined the support being provided by the government’s export credit agency UK Export Finance for instance, while Jim David presented on the invoice financing solutions provided by Bibby Financial Services.
Shakil Ahmed also updated delegated on the key transition from CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import & Export Freight) to CDS (Customs Declaration Service) being conducted by HMRC. This is a key update to the technology that is used to check goods moving over the UK border.
Finally, the Institute also updated delegates on a new range of training courses it will be delivering in 2019.
More to come in 2019
In 2019 the Institute will be on the road once more with summits scheduled to be taking place in Southampton, Manchester, Scotland, Belfast, the South West, Oxford, London and the Midlands. The theme for next year’s summits will be ‘Making the Case for International Trade’.