Secretary of state and export minister support E-commerce Commission launch

Tue 13 Jun 2023
Posted by: Richard Cree
Trade News

ECommerce Trade Commission

Business and trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, today (13 June) welcomed the launch of the new E-Commerce Trade Commission convened by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) and chaired by director general, Marco Forgione.

Speaking at the launch, Badenoch pointed to the government's ambition for UK exports to reach £1trn by 2030 and explained that helping more UK SMEs to trade digitally will be critical to achieving that goal:

“The UK is home to the most advanced ecommerce market in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Our new e-commerce and trade commission is going to build on that position and bring government and business together identifying clear and deliverable changes to boost UK ecommerce trade.

“Often people think of ecommerce as just the B2C, but actually B2B is six times larger, which underlines the potential for ecommerce.”

Also speaking at the launch, export minister Lord Offord – dubbed the 'Lord of Exports' by Badenoch at the event – said that ecommerce was essential to getting more firms exporting, which ultimately would feed into the government’s levelling up agenda.

Companies that export, he said, have higher margins, better growth and employ more people. The more companies that export, the better the quality the UK business population which would he said help to achieve the government's levelling-up agenda.

“People right across the country would be working in better-managed companies where they have higher wages. That is levelling up in action,” said Lord Offord.

Reducing paperwork

Badenoch pointed to existing initiatives to facilitate trade and make it less bureaucratic, including the single trade window and the Electronic Trade Documents Bill.

She highlighted that while the ambition was to improve and speed up trade, there were added benefits in “showing other countries and the businesses in those other countries what the opportunities are for speeding up trade.”

 Kemi Badenoch speaking at Commission event

[Pictured: Kemi Badenoch, business and trade secretary]

Badenoch added that the government was looking to the new commission to bring new thinking and new ideas to government on how to reduce paperwork and facilitate trade further.

For Lord Offord, only a few weeks into his role as export minister, one key challenge for the Department for Business and Trade was to get better at communicating existing support for SMEs.

“There is an export toolkit already in place, we just need to get the message out there. Government’s role in all this is just to be a facilitator. We can facilitate and accelerate businesses taking the first step into.”  

High ideals to commission

Forgione said there are high ideals as to what the Commission can and will achieve and why IOE&IT and its partners have brought together such a broad range of actors from across the industry.

It boils down to the shared desire to get more businesses engaged in international trade.

“We need to get more firms exporting because all the evidence shows that businesses which trade export are more resilient, more sustainable, more innovative and employ more people. But importantly for the businesses, they are also more profitable.”

John Boumphrey, Amazon’s UK, Ireland and Türkiye country manager, also joined the panel discussion at the launch, chaired by IOE&IT public affairs lead, Grace Thompson.

“We’re excited about this commission, not least because as today’s event shows we have the support of government. This means we really have business and government working together, which sends a fantastic signal about this opportunity.

“The commission has this great opportunity to make small businesses aware of the opportunities from exporting and how to go after them.”

Kemi Badenoch speaking to Grace Thompson

[Pictured: Grace Thompson, IOE&IT public affairs lead (left) and Kemi Badenoch, business and trade secretary (right)] 

Forgione explained the scope of the Commission, which will run for two years and said the board and various working groups would be taking evidence from around the UK across a range of thematic areas. The focus will be on collaboration across the industry.

Lord Offord snappily summed up what might become the simplest of mission statements for the new Commission when he declared, “We just need to make it cool to export.”