Report from the South Coast World Trade Summit

Thu 28 Feb 2019
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

southampton world trade summit

The first World Trade Summit of 2019 took place at the University of Southampton Science Park in February and tackled a range of topics relating to international trade and Brexit. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU was still causing waves of business uncertainty, with the prospect of an extension to Article 50 in the news at the time.

Regional support

It was the first time we’d taken the summit programme to the South Coast and Mark Baulch (Head of Policy & Representation – Hampshire Chamber of Commerce) and Jayne Sime (Business Support – Solent Local Enterprise Partnership) updated delegates about the support on offer in the region. Southampton is of course a significant area for the UK, with multiple ports, an airport and booming tech and life sciences industries. Highlighting funding available from the Solent LEP for businesses in the region, Jayne noted how export and Brexit advice are a key part of the support they offer. Mark noted some of the questions businesses should be asking themselves about Brexit and also noted that exporting isn’t just great for growth and spreading risk, but it can also be fun!

Plenty of opportunities for those who know how to take them

Dominykas Broga (Programme Manager – Tech UK) presented on opportunities around the world for tech companies in the UK. The UK is the 3rd most promising market for tech innovation and disruption after the USA and Japan and Dominykas was confident that UK tech businesses will continue to successfully go global, whatever happens with Brexit. Lesley Batchelor OBE (Director General – Institute of Export & International Trade) supported the optimism around export opportunities espoused by her fellow speakers, but also warned that exporting is only great when you know how to do it properly. Lesley spoke about how the Institute’s training courses, customs pathway, and AEO support could help exporters to prepare for Brexit.

Some regulars from the World Trade Summit circuit reappeared in Southampton, including Yvonne Wedel-Andersen and Jim Davis (Bibby Financial Services) and Jack O’Neil (Simply VAT). Jack advised delegates on what they need to understand about cross-border VAT when selling goods online, while Yvonne and Jim presented on the range of trade finance solutions offered by Bibby. They also discussed the need for businesses to have clear international terms and conditions, explaining processes for payment terms and setting out clearly where liability lies through Incoterms.

Exporting takes time

dehns clare mann

Dehns sponsored the summit and Clare Mann (Partner – Dehns) spoke on their behalf about the need for exporters to properly protect their brands when entering international markets. Clare gave an overview of what counts as a trade mark and spoke of some amusing incidents of when businesses have translated their brands incorrectly into different languages. We would like to thank Dehns for partnering with us on the event.

We’d also like to thank the University of Southampton Science Park for hosting us. The event closed with an exporter case study panel discussion hosted by their CEO, Peter Birkett CEO. Mike Austin (CEO – Fresh Relevance), James Davenport (Head of Technology – TrackBack) and Sandra Sassow (Director & Co-Founder SeaB) showed the diversity of businesses based in the Science Park and each spoke of their successes and challenges in international trade. With case studies often a highlight of the World Trade Summits, each business spoke of the need for perseverance when starting to export, noting that market entry takes time.

Peter Birkett, CEO of the University of Southampton Science Park, said:

“There are many businesses here at the Science Park that are achieving significant growth through international trade. Equally, there are many here and indeed across the region that have not yet embraced, or even explored, the potential to do so.  The South Coast World Trade Summit organised by the Institute of Export & International Trade signposted a way forward for these businesses."  

"With a great deal of practical advice, speakers at the event clearly demonstrating that, with the right guidance, exporting can not only be easy, but the turnkey to realising a company’s true growth potential. We look forward to hosting the Institute for future events aimed at supporting the South’s entrepreneurial business community.”

While Brexit uncertainty was a significant concern at the time of the summit, it also featured plenty of optimism around the opportunities that are out there for UK businesses. The speaker organisations and the Institute are all on hand to support businesses in the region to make the most of them.

With thanks to our event partners: