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Volume 604: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2016

My noble Friend the Minister of State for Trade and Investment (Lord Maude of Horsham) has today made the following statement.

The Government aim to increase the number of exporting businesses by 100,000, from 188,000 in 2010 to 288,000 by 2020, and to increase the value of exports significantly. This will require a step-change in UK exports. Some of the factors that affect exports are beyond our control, including for example the strength of the pound vis-a-vis other major currencies, the decline in the growth of global trade and the changing role of emerging markets. There are, however, things that Government can and should do to make a difference to exports.

We intend to:

drive up the number of exporters through an increasingly digital offer (such as exporting is great) that will lead businesses to the right advice and support, including a joined-up HMG toolkit;

drive up the value of exports, by focusing attention on those markets with the biggest opportunities for sectors in which the UK is or can be a strong competitor and where Government can add most value; and,

drive up the future pipeline of export opportunities, which includes ensuring that British businesses are poised to seize the opportunities generated through the prosperity fund’s activities to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development.

This will require a whole-of-Government approach, bringing together resources from across Whitehall. Integrated industry sector teams will report to departmental Ministers with responsibility for wider policies for that sector (e.g. food and drink in DEFRA). This will better leverage our specialist knowledge and existing relationships with business, and enable joined-up policy and operational delivery. This will require significantly improved cross-Whitehall engagement on exports, as well as other major changes to UKTI’s operating model. Under the new model, a streamlined UKTI HQ will lead and convene overall Government activity to drive up exports. Business planning will become more rigorous, to give greater clarity and confidence on the resources available to sector Ministers and overseas heads of missions. Importantly, this joined-up approach will help ensure that exports are supported by domestic policies.

UKTI is developing a single digital platform through which businesses can access HMG and private sector support. On its own, however, this is not enough to deliver the step-change needed in exports. UKTI’s current model relies heavily on giving advice to businesses. The new model will over time place much more emphasis on direct support for businesses that are seeking to export, drawing on the experience of what export promotion agencies do elsewhere in the world. We will pilot some of these ideas in a few sectors and/or localities over the coming months. As part of this, UKEF will work alongside the British Business Bank to ensure that Government’s financial offering to SMEs is coherent, easy to use, and fills identified market gaps. Importantly, where export services can be provided by the private sector, with little or no value provided by Government’s involvement, HMG ultimately intends to exit that market and focus instead on fostering the conditions for an invigorated private sector export support marketplace.

Other work that supports exports will continue. This includes making the UK a more attractive environment for inward investment (which can often be a driver for exports), and working within the European Union to encourage the negotiation and implementation of free trade agreements.

The focus on trade as a Government priority has also been reinforced by the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint a number of new trade envoys, taking the total up to 24 covering 50 high growth and emerging markets. The trade envoy programme supports HMG’s overall strategy to drive economic growth. Envoys are carefully selected for their experience, skills and knowledge of particular sectors or markets, or their knowledge of business. Their role is to help promote the UK’s excellence globally and champion HMG’s trade and investment priorities. The newly appointed trade envoys are:

Angola—The right hon. Baroness Northover

Burma, Brunei, Thailand—Mark Gamier MP

Canada—Andrew Percy MP

DRC, Mozambique—Richard Benyon MP

Ethiopia—Jeremy Lefroy MP

Ghana—Adam Afriyie MP

Iran—The right hon. Lord Lamont of Lerwick

Morocco, Tunisia—Andrew Murrison MP

Nigeria—John Howell MP

Philippines, Malaysia—Richard Graham MP (extending his existing envoy role in Indonesia, ASEAN Economic Community)

Taiwan—Lord Faulkner of Worcester

Uganda, Rwanda—Lord Popat.