More than 100 North East England Chamber of Commerce guests heard one of Government’s most senior international trade officials set out the advantages of exporting at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.
The Department for International Trade Director General for Exports, John Mahon, told the 100-strong audience that trade was a top priority for the Government.
He said: “The Government’s export strategy was launched in August after a lengthy consultation with businesses to ensure it clearly matched the aspirations and needs of British companies.”
His speech set out the export framework on how the UK should encourage, inform, connect and finance businesses so that they can start or continue exporting.
He said: “Exporting is fundamentally a good thing for any country. It gives increased returns on investment and provides businesses with an excellent boost in terms of sustainability.
“We have ambitions to increase our current £637.4bn a year of exports, which represents 30% of GDP, up to 35. We want to ask businesses at events such as this Chamber lunch, ‘How can we help you? What do you need?”
Julie Underwood, Chamber international trade director said: “Our Global members were able to ask John Mahon questions relating to their own exporting experience and he clarified a range of queries on exporting strategy and where DIT can provide support. We really appreciate him visiting our region, the third time, in his first eight months in his role, to promote the advantages of exporting and listen to our members.”
John Mahon explained he didn’t want anyone who traded internationally to feel as if there was a wrong door to get access to export support. As part of this, he said the Department for International Trade had a digital first policy so businesses could access information more easily around the clock.
He added the desire to increase the number of UK exporters and enable existing ones to expand was based on distinct areas. They included encouraging new exporters by targeting some specific sectors and removing real or perceived obstacles, for example trading with Nigeria where there are huge opportunities but often misconceptions on risk.
He also explained his Department wanted to connect more closely with business buyers and sellers. He emphasised the connections the Department for International Trade has, with DIT staff placed in 108 countries.
To support exporters there is a UK Finance fund of £50 billion and also a team of Export Champions including Chamber member Lesley Moody of Billingham-based AES Digital Solutions.
The event was sponsored by LV Shipping and Transport.