Looking ahead to the Coventry trade summit

Thu 26 Oct 2017
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

trade summits

Ahead of our upcoming trade summit in Coventry, we spoke to sponsors Barclays’ West Midlands regional team about the summit, their work in the region and what businesses need to be thinking about when it comes to Brexit.

You can still sign up to the summit on November 13th for a day packed with thought leadership and networking opportunities – sign up now.

Why the trade summit is important for the region

We always find it useful to hear from local businesses on their international activities, particularly as exporting forms such an important part of Barclays strategy to support UK economic growth. Success breeds success and therefore the Trade Summit is an ideal opportunity for new & less experienced exporters to learn from other more established businesses in the region.

The business challenges in the region

The main challenges at the moment are; skills shortage, economic uncertainty and highly volatile FX markets. These all impact on the ability to trade overseas, which is why the Trade Summit is also a great way of boosting confidence by highlighting the various support available to overcome these challenges. The most prominent sectors in the West Midlands are manufacturing, engineering, retail and wholesale.

Areas of discussion around Brexit

Selling to new markets is always something we encourage businesses to explore, regardless of Brexit. The main reason being that this spreads the risk of reliance on one market/economy. Whatever the outcome of negotiations, this will still be relevant.

Over the next two years, UK companies operating within Europe should be re-establishing relationships with their European buyers and suppliers, keeping them close, as well as understanding the potentially ever changing trading landscape.

In a recent update, Henk Potts, Director of Global Research & Investments at Barclays was quoted as saying:

“Businesses are far more practical than politicians anyway. They always find ways around the hurdles. They enter new markets, they innovate, they stay close to their customers and suppliers. Regardless of what happens, we’ll still be interacting with the rest of the world, and UK businesses will continue to make it happen."

What businesses need to know about entering new markets

  • Cash flow – exporting generally extends the length of time for receiving payment due to the additional shipping period of goods being sent overseas. Businesses need to ensure they factor the additional working capital requirement into their forecasts.
  • Risk – there are various risks involved in exporting, which don’t apply to domestic trade. Some key things businesses need to consider are the risk of non-payment, FX fluctuations and political/economic risk in less developed markets.
  • Cultural differences – this is often overlooked, but can be the difference between success or failure in a new trade relationship. Each country has its own unique way of doing business. The Government’s Department for International Trade is a great resource to assist with getting a better understanding of this and using it to gain a competitive advantage.

Top three tips for exporters in 2018

  1. Spend time researching and building an export strategy rather than taking a scattergun approach. This will save time in the long run and ensure a much higher chance of success.
  2. Engage with your banking partner early to discuss the risks inherent with international trade, as well as any potential funding requirements.
  3. Speak to the Department for International Trade/UK Export Finance to understand what’s available.