Worcestershire is developing a major push to boost exports, a conference has heard.
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership, said the aim in particular was to encourage small firms to take the plunge.
His comments came at the International Outlook for Worcestershire event, organised by the LEP and Government agency UK Trade & Investment, and held at the Worcester site of machine tool maker Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd.
Robin Southwell, CEO of EADS UK, UKTI Business Ambassador and keynote speaker, told the industry and business gathering it was vital to increase the number of exporting companies – currently below the national target.
To achieve this, the LEP, working in association with UKTI, the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce and the private sector, is developing “a focus plan of international engagement for trade links and promoting the county to the world”.
Mr Woodman stated: “We know that Worcestershire has about 17 per cent of its businesses exporting, but that is below the national target of 20 per cent, a target which is rising to 25 per cent.
“So we have work to do. We need to persuade companies that don’t export to export and encourage existing exporters to look at entering new markets.”
Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, acknowledged there was sometimes a fear factor about exporting – small firms were concerned they did not have the knowledge or resources to cope and worried about the risks involved.
But he insisted that exporting was comparatively easy if firms put a structure in place and accessed the right advice … which is where UKTI comes in.
Crispin Simon, Managing Director of Trade Development at the Agency, said: “Small and medium sized businesses are the engine room of the UK economy, making a vital contribution to national GDP, job creation and the promotion of innovation.
“At UKTI, we believe there are exporting opportunities for every business, no matter what their size. With our range of established and new services we can help companies overcome barriers and succeed overseas.
“The goods and services produced by West Midlands firms are in demand all around the world and we know that companies which export grow faster and survive longer than those that don’t. There are opportunities both in traditional, established markets such as Europe and the US and the high growth economies such as China, India, Brazil and Russia. A great place to start is by talking to your local UKTI International Trade Adviser, who has years of business experience and can give you one-to-one advice and mentoring.”