Posted by

Kamala Mackinnon, Campaigns Adviser

01 Aug 2012

Before the Games started the British Business Embassy hosted a series of high-profile events designed to promote the UK plc to global business leaders. Even the Prime Minister came out to help showcase the UK as an ideal destination for overseas investment. Now that the Olympics have started there will certainly be an important confidence boost for businesses, especially in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

However, these are only two parts of the story. We must also focus on the long-term issues facing would-be exporters and work to unlock the potential of Britain’s existing and future exporters.

Trends in Britain’s overseas trade are shifting and improving, with more exports going to emerging markets. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, more than half of British exports in the three months to May went to countries outside the EU, an increase of 13% on the same quarter last year. Our latest DHL/ BCC Trade Confidence Index also showed an increase in the number of firms reporting an increase in export orders, up from +39% in Q1 to +49% in Q2, despite concerns about the eurozone.

Yet, potential exporters still face a number of barriers which must be addressed if we are to see the economy rebalanced towards exports. The BCC’s 2012 survey of over 8,000 businesses showed that many firms still lack the skills and international connections needed to export; and that domestic and international regulations are an obstacle to global trade. The results also showed that companies across the UK perceive both the cost and quality of transport connections to be barriers to export; and risk management and access to finance as central exporting issues.

Here at the BCC we are doing all we can to ensure UK businesses have the exporting skills needed to achieve their ambitions. Local Chambers of Commerce across the UK provide fantastic support to exporters, whether it’s their first time entering a foreign market or their 50th. Tickets are also on sale for our International Trade Conference, on 24 Ocotober, in London, to provide high growth firms with all the skills they need to become truly global businesses.         

When the eyes of the world are firmly focused on the UK, the government needs to ensure exporters have the ability to capitalise on that attention. The BCC believes that bold action in areas such as trade finance and insurance, the creation of a business bank, and commitments to improve infrastructure would not only help to drive growth domestically but also help businesses take the Olympics from short-term boost to a long lasting export legacy.