Although this is widely acknowledged among policy makers, many of the financial schemes that underpin trade have been withdrawn, undermined, or are not fit for purpose. For example, we believe that the Government needs to do more to ensure exporters access to trade finance, which in many cases has put British exporters at a disadvantage compared to their main rivals during the past ten years.

Some form of trade financing underpins around 90% of all exports, easing the flow of international trade by moderating its risks. Yet despite this, British exporters have experienced severe difficulties when accessing the trade finance products that are essential to their businesses. While the Government has implemented a Letters of Credit Guarantee Scheme, serious issues remain around access to export trade credit insurance. Unlike other comparable trading nations, the British Government sold its short-term export credit business and refuses to intervene in the export credit market, putting British exporters at a comparative disadvantage during times of economic uncertainty.

While there is some evidence that the problem is diminishing in its scale, the Government needs to support those exporters who are still struggling, and prepare for future market shocks to ensure that there is a state-backed solution ready when needed. While we welcome the October 2009 Letters of Credit Guarantee Scheme, we believe there is still work to do to ensure that British exporters are protected during any subsequent economic shocks, and are able to compete in difficult markets.

If the Government is serious about encouraging British exports as a driver of employment, economic growth and prosperity, it must seek to resolve what we believe are market failures and lack of provision in the trade finance industry. This would help British exporters to be able to compete more effectively with competitors from other comparable trading nations who are better supported during difficult times, and help put Britain on a stable path to full recovery. As Exporting out of recession, the latest report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee suggests, Chambers of Commerce across the country are well placed to help businesses grow through exporting.