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Export Forum

Volume 301: debated on Tuesday 25 November 1997

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If he will make a statement on the impact on his Department of the recommendations of the export forum. [15991]

The FCO and the DTI launched the export forum in June to examine the effectiveness of Government support for UK exporters. Their recommendations were published in October. The Government accept their broad thrust. They give a positive and challenging basis for making the Foreign Office's efforts more focused on the needs of our customers—adding maximum value to their efforts and so leading to more jobs and prosperity for Britain.

I welcome my hon. Friend's reply and the initiative taken by the Government in asking the private sector what was needed to increase exports. Will the implementation of the recommendations of the export forum help small and medium businesses in Swindon and elsewhere in the country to reach out to the markets on which they are missing out?

I recently had the opportunity of visiting my hon. Friend's constituency in Swindon and seeing the work of the local business link and the support that it was offering to small and medium businesses. We very much welcome that support. One of the export forum's key recommendations is to ensure that greater emphasis and focus are placed on the work of small and medium enterprises, particularly in assisting them to open up new export markets and activities.