The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) celebrated another year of growth in its membership and reach at its 88th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Glasgow today (21 September).
It was the first time the event has been hosted in Scotland in recent memory, with IOE&IT president Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint saying that this was “an important statement”.
“We are here to serve businesses in all parts of the UK to tackle exports,” he said. “There has never been a time at which the work of IOE&IT is as important as it is now.”
Richard Lochhead MSP, the minister in the Scottish government for small business, innovation, tourism and trade, also welcomed IOE&IT’s decision to host its AGM in Scotland.
“IOE&IT has a great and long history of supporting businesses, empowering them with the right knowledge and skills to trade and to access international markets,” he said.
IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione MIEx praised Scotland’s leading role in UK trade, particularly as it is home to two of the country’s most successful exports – Scotch whisky and salmon.
IOE&IT chairman Terry Scuoler MIEx said he was delighted to be in Scotland for the event and that 2022 was “a tremendous year” for IOE&IT.
Major achievements he highlighted included:
- IOE&IT membership growing from 6800 to 7600
- A 7% increase in the number of learners on IOE&IT courses to over 3,500
- The opening of new international offices in Nairobi and Brussels
- The launching of the E-Commerce Trade Commission, which IOE&IT convenes
- IOE&IT being featured across the mainstream media, including the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and New Statesman
“There’s been further changes for businesses, as the UK continues to manage changes to how we trade with the EU and to sign trade agreements with countries around the world.
“This includes the CPTPP agreement which the UK recently signed. This 11-nation bloc represents some 15% of global GDP, which is now accessible to the UK.
“As an organisation, we continue to grow, nudging closer towards having 200 employees. Our level of engagement with government, including in the nations and regions, continues to grow.
“We’re also expanding internationally, and importing and exporting is critical to us. Our work through Brussels in the EU, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, all combines to supporting the growth and success of the UK, our members and our stakeholders.”
Dominic Broom MIEx, honorary treasurer on the IOE&IT board, also gave an overview of IOE&IT’s financial growth in 2022 and projections for 2023.
Exciting times ahead
Forgione said 2022 had proven to be an “incredible and fast-paced year of change and development” but added that further exciting times lay ahead.
He highlighted the “strategic global relevance” of the E-Commerce Trade Commission which IOE&IT convened this year and which counts Amazon, Google and eBay among its members.
He said the commission’s activities for next year will include a sectoral summit, evidence sessions in multiple UK regions and the production of policy papers looking at several key topics, such as sustainable supply chains, the growing influence of AI and gender inclusivity.
New digital era
He also said the AGM came at a “transformational moment for UK trade”, the day after the Electronic Trade Documents Act entered into force.
Forgione said the IOE&IT had an “important role to play in ensuring that UK businesses understand how they can exploit the huge opportunities” that will result from the digitalisation of trade that the legislation purportedly enables.
He added that IOE&IT was also committed to supporting developing countries to make the most of the opportunities that trade digitalisation offers.
Reflecting on a probable General Election in the UK next year, Forgione said IOE&IT was looking to both “forge ties” with Labour while “maintaining strong ties with the current government”.
“We are pleased to be partnering with The Spectator and the New Statesman at the Conservative and Labour party conferences respectively, as well as running our own private high-level strategic business dinners at both conferences,” he said.
Historic moment ahead
Forgione also told members that IOE&IT is continuing to go through the process of being awarded Chartered Status and said this could be “formalised next year”.
“This is a very encouraging demonstration that we have achieved the highest levels of professionalism and expertise in our industry,” he said.