It is vital that the UK stay within the EU if government targets to raise the level of exports to £1 trillion by 2020 are to be met.
This was the message from our Director General, Lesley Batchelor OBE,who gave a keynote speech at an event entitled ‘We are International’, organised by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) together with international trade specialists Chamber International, UKTI Yorkshire and Humber, Enterprise Europe Yorkshire, MY Export Hub and Yorkshire Universities.
Held at the The Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds, Lesley discussed the findings of this year’s International Trade Survey – commissioned by the IOE – to an audience representing a cross-section of businesses from across West Yorkshire.
Cautioning against leaving the EU, advising that it would have a significant impact on UK companies and the balance of trade, the Director General said: “UK exports reached £304 billion last year – up from £300 billion in 2012 – with the EU remaining the UK’s largest overseas market – accounting for around 60% of national exports, and as the economic recovery takes hold, export levels should accelerate”.
Although the survey highlighted that 69% of UK businesses expect to increase their dependency on exports over the next five years, Lesley raised concerns that UK exports were not rising fast enough to meet the government’s target.
She added: “While companies are clear on the importance of staying in the EU, a significant number would like to see some renegotiation on terms. 41% said that less red tape would be the single change to the UK’s terms of EU membership that would most benefit their business, along with increased government support and help getting paid. Companies also need help in compliance with local regulations in overseas markets, but an information gap exists regarding government support for exporters – only 2% see this currently as driving export growth,” concluded Lesley.
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