Export week was launched by my colleague Lord Green in May and included over 80 events across the UK, attended by more than 3,600 businesses focusing on 20 high-growth markets.
As chairman of the all-party group on Azerbaijan, I attended the Caspian oil and gas conference, where BP announced its further development of the Shah Deniz gas field. What action can the Government take with UK Trade & Investment further to expand British trade with Azerbaijan in order to address the concerns of the governor of Ganja, it’s second city, that, although German, Dutch and French companies are bidding for major infrastructure contracts there, no British companies are involved?
We are absolutely aware of the international export opportunities presented by major infrastructure projects and are strengthening the commercial role of our embassies in key target markets such as Azerbaijan to ensure that we secure a fair share of those contracts.
I attended one of the 80 events, in Derbyshire in the east midlands. There were fewer than 100 people there, and not one from my constituency. UK Trade & Investment has been given additional funding. Will my right hon. Friend explain what it is spending that funding on, and why it is not reaching out? It is all right exporting from the south of the country, but we need to look to the midlands and the north too.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right on the importance of reaching out to businesses in her constituency and across the midlands. Indeed, we are trying to strengthen the ability of chambers of commerce located in our key target markets to communicate with small and medium-sized enterprises back home. We are specifically helping smaller companies with the cost of going to their first international trade fair, as not enough of them take that important opportunity. We are seeing the benefits, with exports to target markets up by 49% in Brazil, up 130% in Russia, and up 60% in India.