Posted by

Kamala Mackinnon, Campaign Advisor

11 Jun 2013

Last month the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and a small group of exporting Chamber member from across the UK met with the Prime Minister to discuss ways to help British small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) trade across the globe.

The small group in attendance was just representation of the diverse range of exporting members in the Chamber network:they ranged from a start-up Kent tea-blender that exports tea to China to the Scottish company exporting tartan to markets around the world. During the meeting these ‘real economy’ businesses explained the challenges facing SMEs seeking to break into new markets and increase their export volumes. Crucially, they also set out a range of well-received ways that the government could do even more to help existing and potential exporters.

That Prime Minister often speaks of the ‘global race’ in business but how can more companies be supported when exporting? From improved export finance to more targeted trade promotion, members were full of helpful ideas on how non-exporters can be supported to enter new markets, and how to help experienced exporters increase their export volumes. You can read their thoughts in full here.

The Chambers of Commerce, recognised around the world as leading supporters of international trade, are the largest source of private sector, business-to-business, support for international trade and export. Amongst Chamber members, 22% were exporting in 2011, 32% in 2012, and 39% in 2013.  However on the ground, those looking to export for the first time continue to face many barriers to exporting. To re-balance the economy towards export-driven growth we must do more to expose more small and medium-sized businesses to the opportunities of global trade through greater support.

As outlined in our Spending Review submission, published on Wednesday, the BCC is calling on the government to allocate more funding towards supporting SME exporters, with more going directly to the coal face rather than into Whitehall-driven programmes. The BCC has called for an extra £33.3m per annum over the course of the Spending Review period to be split between the 20 priority markets identified by UKTI. Trade missions, development of in-market support and promotion of market opportunities to companies in the UK must be prioritised if we are to unleash the full potential of Britain’s exporters.