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Export Support Services

Volume 558: debated on Thursday 7 February 2013

13. What steps he has taken to raise awareness of export support services among small and medium-sized enterprises. (141941)

We have reformed UK Trade & Investment to ensure that it better supports small and medium-sized enterprises. Some 90% of UKTI’s trade customers are SMEs, and its awareness raising includes a plethora of local activities, including MP constituency trade seminars. One hundred and forty colleagues, including me and my hon. Friend, are holding UKTI trade seminars in their constituencies, and I urge Members from all sides to get involved.

I thank the Minister for that response. In my experience, and that of my constituents, UK commercial banks could do more to promote trade finance. Does my hon. Friend think they are doing enough to promote services offered by UK trade finance?

Not yet, but they are about to. UK Export Finance is establishing a series of regional advisers who through banks, lawyers and accountants will reach more SMEs. That is part and parcel of a widespread message going out to all businesses that if they want help exporting, UKTI is there. The trade seminars in Members’ constituencies will be an important part of that.

Does the Minister agree that one of the biggest frustrations for small businesses is the Government’s tendency to launch a plethora of schemes and press releases to go with them? I congratulate the Government on holding a bonfire of the brochures in the life sciences sector, and on setting up a dedicated life science investment office that is staffed by two industry experts who support the Department’s generalists in providing targeted advice.