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Export Promotion

Volume 226: debated on Wednesday 16 June 1993

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To ask the President of the Board of Trade what role and responsibilities he envisages for the 100 business people he plans to recruit from the private sector to assist with export promotion; and if he will make a statement.

I expect the export promoters recruited from business to go out and encourage companies throughout the country to take advantage of opportunities to export. With their business skills and experience, and their first-hand knowledge of specific overseas markets, the export promoters will be able to offer informed advice and assistance which will add to and complement our existing export services. I am sure they will help us to deliver our best ever service to British exporters.

To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many of the 100 business people he plans to recruit from the private sector to assist the DTI with export promotion have been secured; and when he expects to have completed the recruitment process.

We now have 31 export promoters on secondment from the private sector, including a few who are still in the process of joining my Department. In addition more than 20 other candidates are currently under consideration, and more offers come in every day. We have also received assurances from a number of companies that they are actively identifying high-calibre people to put forward as they become available. We intend to complete the recruitment process by the end of the year.

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent initiatives he has undertaken and intends to take to assist the promotion of British exports; and if he will make a statement.

In addition to policies to improve the climate for business, such as the deregulation initiative, we have taken a number of steps to improve the already excellent services the Government offers businesses wishing to export.Under the newly created post of director general of export promotion, we have set up two new divisions concentrating solely on promotional work. They will have up to 60 extra staff to allow individual coverage of the United Kingdom's top 80 export markets. We are also recruiting 100 men and women from the private sector on secondment to bring their skills and experience to assist these divisions in their export promotion work.Under the overseas projects board, we are establishing sector task forces chaired by senior business people to co-ordinate our efforts to secure the business that flows from major overseas projects. The Government have also made available to United Kingdom exporters more than £2 billion of additional export credit cover for key markets over the next three years, and ECGD has reduced its premium rates by an average of more than 25 per cent. over the last year.These initiatives will build substantially on the current matrix of support available to help our exporters under the joint DTI and FCO overseas trade services operation worldwide, to ensure that ever greater numbers of United Kingdom exporters get the additional support they deserve to help them win in world markets.