Posted by

Kamala Mackinnon, Campaigns Adviser

12 Oct 2012

Roberto Jaguaribe said the world was changing, and growth was increasingly going to come from emerging economies. He said the UK has always had a good relationship with Brazil, but not an intense relationship. UK trade with Latin America has the potential to be tripled but would still be less than current UK trade rates with Ireland. He suggested that the way forwards would be for businesses to forge closer relationships with their counterparts abroad; something the Chamber Networking is actively helping businesses achieve.

Margot James MP agreed that the UK did not do enough business in Brazil. She said the traditional benefits of the English language, the UK's relationship with America and the commonwealth had given rise to complacency over the last 50 years. Current aviation capacity put the UK at a huge disadvantage, with only one direct flight to Brazil, and no direct flights to many parts of Asia. She also spoke of the need to improve languages in education, which she hoped to bring back as compulsory in school education. She cited the BCC’s latest export survey which showed the extent of the UK’s language deficit: up to 96% of survey respondents had no foreign language ability for the markets they served, and the largest language deficits are for the fastest-developing markets.

Clare Harbord spoke of the importance of connectivity to the UK. She said that aviation was important to both existing and emerging markets. It is not just a problem for London and the South East; other parts of the UK want to export to different countries but still need to send their goods via the same channels. In comparison China is building fifteen more airports, expected by 2015, and is planning on improving the one hundred they already have. Clare spoke of the importance of the UK’s hub status and the fact that Britain is at risk of being overtaken by its competitors if its aviation capacity is not addressed.

John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said exports were "fundamentally important to the UK". The lack of access to finance had already "choked off some" businesses in the UK. Britain was "great" at high-knowledge services and cited the recent report from McKinsey that had identified Britain as a net exporter of high-knowledge services, such as banking and the creative industries. He said there were the beginnings of a "fundamental shift" in policy about how government viewed the issue of high-knowledge services. The UK needed to become an "enterprise-friendly" economy, where winners would not be picked by government, but would naturally emerge.

Overall the consensus was that UK businesses have taken the right steps in starting an export-led recovery, but there was still more to be done. If we are to succeed the government must do more to help businesses face the barriers to entering foreign markets.

Here at the BCC we are helping businesses do just that. The Chamber Network has a long and established track record of trade facilitation. From market research, export training and advice, helping businesses find financial assistance to export and providing essential export documentation we are constantly striving to support businesses export across the globe. That is why we are carrying on the theme ‘Exporting is Good for Britain’ into our International Trade Conference on 24 October. Businesses will be able to get advice and practical support from surgeries, run in association with UKTI and bilateral chambers, as well as bespoke information on key markets across the globe.

We will continue to fly the flag for UK businesses as they export across the globe.