Earlier this month, the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) launched its new Cymru office.
At the event, members of IOE&IT mixed with government representatives and local business leaders. The IOE&IT Daily Update caught up with some of the attendees to get their thoughts on the new office and what it means for Welsh trade.
A key part of exporter support
Andrew Gwatkin, director international relations and trade at the Welsh government, described the IOE&IT’s new presence in Wales as of “fundamental” importance to the economy and to traders.
“We have an ecosystem of support for exporters, and IOE&IT is very much a key part of that. Both in terms of the direct advice that it can provide to businesses, and also the
way that it works with everyone else to make sure that there is coverage for whatever a business wants to do.
“Together, all we want to do is help businesses achieve their ambitions.”
For Gwatkin, a key benefit is in cross-collaboration between the public and private sectors.
“I see it as absolutely vital that both government and industry work together. We can each bring something to the table. Industry has its own views about what it wants to achieve and what can be done.
“Government is very much about the policy and helping businesses, both in terms of direct support, but also in terms of market access. The way we work across government as well, including the Department for Business and Trade and the Welsh government,
will provide services into exporters.
“The way we combine and work together, including with the Institute is absolutely fundamental, each bringing their area of expertise to what is a fantastic opportunity for everyone.”
Pride in the trade community
Sarah Grain, business manager at magnetics producer Eriez, said that as an IOE&IT member of long standing, having the Cymru office will be a massive help to exporters:
“I've been a member since 1992. When I joined as a student, I wanted to get my qualification. I became a full member in 1994 and I've been a member ever since.
“For me, it was the importance of having that recognition of formal qualification. I work in in sales environments as Eriez is an export-growth led company.
“A benefit was the extra support if I ever needed information, but I also felt proud to be part of the community, and also to be able to say ‘yes, I've got that professional qualification’. I got all that support and that group behind me if I need it.”
Bringing it all to Wales
Bringing regional representation in trade is a part of IOE&IT’s mission, and this was also of importance to Grain.
“We've perhaps felt a little bit remote here at times, a bit disconnected, but the export business is thriving here in Wales.
“It's fantastic to have some support locally, perhaps as a facility to get people and businesses together who can mentor one another, provide support and also spread the message to other businesses. And it’s great for young people in Wales that there
are huge opportunities to be had through educational programmes and apprenticeships.”
The event’s speakers and atmosphere resonated with Grain, who felt that the night was boost for Welsh businesses.
“There's obviously a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of positivity, and it's important for businesses to be appreciated and to hear that message. It gives you have the motivation to keep exporting, to keep growing and to keep being successful.”
Robert O'Neill, CEO of the Welsh Automotive Forum (WAF), talked of the importance of industry bodies working together:
“The WAF worked very closely with IOE&IT through the very difficult period of Brexit and the challenges that our members had to face with trade. The IOE&IT were extremely helpful, providing great guidance and knowledge to our members, in a very difficult trading period.”
Collaboration will be a key part of helping members understand planned changes to trade.
Changes to the current trading system, like the Target Operating Model and the continued switchover from CHIEF to Customs Declaration Service (CDS), are coming and understanding how to take advantage of them is crucial to helping traders survive.
“Soon, we will be moving into changes for organisations around the single trade window as an example, or the ecosystem of trust or the new Trade Operating Model.
“Another example being as we move towards CDS into a new mechanism, a new operating system. There are tangible benefits where we can work together with IOE&IT, to educate and inform our members as we move along the timeline into new trading arrangements.”