DIT review aims to boost UK’s number of exporters

With only 9% of British companies currently exporting, government launches strategic review of relevant policies

A sweeping Export Strategy review launched at the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) aims to turn domestic firms that do not currently send goods overseas into a new generation of exporters.

Trade and exports minister Baroness Rona Fairhead is leading the review.

To support the process, Baroness Fairhead has also issued a new financial product designed to relieve strains on exporters’ supply chains.

According to a DIT statement, the new product “will ensure exporters have more time to pay for supplies of goods and raw materials, while helping smaller companies in export supply chains secure early payment to support their cash flow”.

As yet unnamed, the relief product will be issued through specialist DIT agency UK Export Finance (UKEF).

DIT points out that, in the latest year-on-year figures, exports were shown to have risen by 13.6% to £602bn.

However, it notes, with only 9% of British companies exporting, “there is huge scope for more businesses to reach new customers by meeting demand for UK goods and services”.

It explains: “Almost 300,000 UK companies produce goods and services that could be exported, but have no overseas sales.

“The new strategy will encourage these businesses to identify opportunities for export, and prepare them to win international contracts.”

As part of the review, DIT will work alongside industry over the coming months to understand the challenges faced by UK firms, increase awareness of export support and finance that is already available, and explore how this can be improved.

Baroness Fairhead said: “The Export Strategy review will draw on expertise from across government and the private sector, helping us to understand how best to support British companies to take advantage of opportunities in overseas markets.

“Throughout the process, we will look for significant input from UK businesses, both large and small, to ensure we develop a strategy that meets their needs.”

DIT notes that, in the course of the last, full financial year, UKEF provided £3bn in support for 221 companies’ exports.

It says that improving awareness and understanding of how export finance can help prospective exporters to compete globally will allow even more firms to benefit.

In his Budget of 22 November, chancellor Philip Hammond announced that – in addition to new products from UKEF – the government would launch a campaign to promote the support they provide to firms through the Exporting is GREAT campaign.

Launched in late 2016, the flagship export platform lists thousands of export opportunities for UK companies worth millions of pounds. It also enables companies to connect with global buyers.

Since its launch, has promoted 11,400 export opportunities, helping around 2.7 million users to either begin or grow their exporting journeys.

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