Government plans to scrap its grant scheme for exporters attending overseas trade fairs after review

Fri 9 Jul 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The Department for International Trade is warning business groups that it is calling time on its Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP), which provides grants for exporters and would be exporters to exhibit at international trade shows. 

 A Times exclusive reports that a letter to trade bodies promises ‘future arrangements’ to replace financial help for taking stands at fairs but doesn’t specify what these alternatives will be.  

Through TAP, businesses that export or are considering exporting can currently apply for grants of up to £2,500 to offset the costs of attending selected international trade shows and conferences.

Government guidance on TAP states that “attending international conferences and events are an effective way for those new to exporting, or exploring new territories, to meet potential customers face-to-face and start the exporting process”.

'Short sighted'

The Times reports that three maritime trade bodies  Maritime UK, British Marine and the Society of Maritime Industries – have written to minister for exports Graham Stuart MP protesting at the move, calling it a “retrograde and short-sighted step for British exporters, especially SMEs”. 

Other organisations have also reacted. Rob Oliver, CEO of the Construction Equipment Association, said: “Sad to see DIT championing British exports by ending grant support for companies at overseas trade shows. The CEA has helped over 150 companies get a toehold in overseas markets using such schemes.”

The CEA warned its members that DIT’s focus will be on a number of key tradeshows, aiming to expand the impact that is generated from these events. 

Under review

TAP has been under review by DIT for some time, though international trade minister Liz Truss did not mention the scheme in front of the International Trade Committee this week when she committed to support companies at trade shows.

Last year, the government put a £300,000 research contract out to tender to produce “a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework to be able to assess how TAP is currently working, and what the short-term and long-term impacts might be”.

Face-to-face is popular

Despite the shift to remote working and video conferencing during the pandemic, a recent survey of UK and US companies found that businesses were looking forward to getting back to doing business face-to-face.

Almost half (46%) were planning to increase their trade show budgets to pre-pandemic levels, reports Retail Wire.

Thousands of trade shows take place every year around the world targeted at specialised sectors, reports Shipping Solutions. Because they are designed to bring together managers from different departments in buyer organisations, they aim to increase the probability of meeting decision makers and those influencing purchase decisions.