Skip to main content

UK Exports

Volume 552: debated on Tuesday 30 October 2012

My Department is supporting UK growth and helping to realise our ambition to double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020. We have a good story to tell. We are transforming the level of commercial awareness in the Department through secondments and training. We are supporting small and medium-sized enterprises exporting to emerging markets, including helping them to manage the risks involved, through our overseas business risk service.

My thanks to the Minister. I am very pleased that the Foreign Office is taking such a leading role in our trade efforts and that UK Trade and Investment held a successful event in my constituency. What other steps are we taking to expand missions in our embassies and the appreciation of trade on the ground?

My hon. Friend raises a very important point, which is getting hon. Members to understand that the facility is available. The more people who do, the better we can export. We have UKTI, and small and medium-sized enterprises will take part in its export week from 12 to 16 November, when more than 100 events will be organised across the UK. We have the overseas business risk service, and members of my Department spoke to members of the Kent international trade office on 18 October about the help that the Foreign Office can offer. I am glad that it is working with her, but I urge right hon. and hon. Members across the House to make use of the facilities for their local small and medium-sized enterprises. We can help—we are here to help—and if Members have any problems and encounter difficulties, my office door is always open.

22. Despite what the Minister said, exports of goods in the second quarter continued to fall, and the £10.2 billion trade deficit in June was the worst since 1997. UK exporters tell me that the increasingly isolationist rhetoric by members of the Government has done little to develop the notion that Britain is open for business, and suggests that the Government just want to be alone. (125231)

I do not know how to respond to that. It may have escaped the hon. Gentleman’s notice that there has been a bit of economic turbulence in the eurozone, which is an important market for us. The network shift over which the Foreign Office is presiding involves more people in more places, particularly in emerging and re-emerging markets. We are opening up 11 new embassies, and eight new British consulates and trade offices. We are redeploying 300 extra staff in more than 20 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. If that is his definition of isolationism, it is not mine.