Spearheaded by Exporta Group, the conference in Birmingham brought together over 250 senior decision makers from the corporate, financial and government sectors to discuss key issues for the UK export industry including the future competitiveness of British exports and provisions available for UK exporters.
High on the agenda were government growth targets, current corporate forecasts, emerging markets and on-going Eurozone issues, along with the numerous options available for exporters and the role of the financial services sector in providing necessary support. A number of case studies presenting exporting success were also showcased.
The survey, commissioned by The Institute of Export (IOE) and conducted by Trade and Export Finance (TAEFL) revealed that lack of experience, finance and government support, as well as ambivalence about Europe, are constraining factors for micro, small and medium-sized businesses to trade internationally.
Lesley Batchelor says: “The results highlight a lack of experience and confidence in the export process as the single most constraining factor for companies entering overseas markets; SMEs are often unaware of the funding options available.
“When most companies do not train staff in international trade – a service which the IOE offers – this lack of knowledge and training holds back export momentum. Graduates who have completed our courses reinforce that success and competitive advantage in global markets must be rooted in sound knowledge.”
Head of Conference Production at Exporta, Jeff Ando, said that one of the key purposes of the conference is to bring the three strands of UK business (corporate, financial and government) to the Midlands, the heart of British industry – and for them to engage in meaningful dialogue both on what is being done well at present but also what needs to be done better in the future.
“There are many success stories, particularly in newer emerging markets, but the main challenge seems to be reducing the disconnection between the different divisions across industry, government and the banking world.”
Managing Director of Exporta, Peter Gubbins, adds: “British products and services are still known to be of high quality, with successes in key industries such as the aerospace, automotive and oil and gas sectors, so it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.
“By holding the first of what we expect to be an annual gathering of what is essentially a ‘who’s who’ of the UK market we look forward to drawing on these and also learning from more difficult experiences to help lead the UK economy forward.”
Throughout the event, strong emphasis was placed on the differing challenges faced by companies of all sizes, from the UK’s global established and highly reputable multinationals, to the increasingly significant mid-sized market and the richly diverse SME sector – the latter very much viewed as the key to future UK growth.
The conference was supported by government agencies such as UKTI and UK Export Finance and leading financial institutions such as Barclays, RBS and Santander.