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Export Support Services (SMEs)

Volume 576: debated on Thursday 6 March 2014

1. What steps he is taking to raise awareness of export support services among small and medium-sized businesses. (902858)

UK Trade & Investment has an extensive programme of awareness-raising activity that is directed at small and medium-sized businesses. That includes a national marketing campaign, “Exporting is GREAT”. More than 10 million people are expected to see the campaign and it should lead to about 3,000 additional businesses working with UKTI.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Clifford Springs in Redditch, which has a great record in exporting springs, for which Redditch is renowned? Will he tell Clifford Springs and other companies what more they can expect from UKTI?

I, too, congratulate Clifford Springs on its export success, particularly to the United States. UKTI has a team of 39 international trade advisers based in the west midlands. They have supported more than 1,400 companies across the region, including many companies in my hon. Friend’s constituency. They also support more experienced companies and companies of all sizes with advice, information and practical support to build their exports.

The Minister will know that one sector in which exports are great for Britain is the motorsport sector. That is to be applauded. However, does he share my concern that some of the exporting that appears to be going on is the exporting of jobs? That is what is happening at Dunlop Motorsport in Birmingham. It seems to be exporting some jobs abroad, when it has been offered alternative sites in Birmingham and when his Department has been pressing it to stay in Birmingham. Will he redouble his efforts to persuade Dunlop Motorsport to stay in Birmingham, where it should be?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has met the company and it was the subject of a debate in the House recently. We will continue to do what we can. However, motorsport is an important and large business sector. I attended the Autosport exhibition in Birmingham recently, as the hon. Gentleman probably did. More than 45,000 people work in the industry across the country and it has a total value of more than £8 billion. We must do everything that we can to ensure that the sector continues to grow.

Exporting in the modern economy requires sustained financial support, yet the law in this country restricts to individual transactions the financial support for exports. I urge the Government to change the law so that we can have the support that is needed for exporters, small, medium and large.

I will certainly look at the point that my hon. Friend raises. I pay tribute to his efforts at the Department over two and a half years to back companies of all sizes in their export drive.