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Exports: South-west

Volume 631: debated on Thursday 23 November 2017

3. What assessment he has made of the prospects for increasing exports from the south-west in the next five years. (902503)

I am glad my hon. Friend asks about our export promotion capability. In 2016, exports of goods from the region, which includes my own constituency, grew by 10.6% compared with 2015, with double-digit growth for markets such as Singapore and South Korea. DIT stands ready to support these businesses, including through the global growth pilot, which offers deeper export support, or through a targeted export programme alongside Torbay Development Agency.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer, not least because he is a fellow south-west MP. Gooch & Housego’s Torquay factory recently won national recognition for how its staff and management have worked together to grow their business. What support does my right hon. Friend intend to give to that and other companies in Torbay’s vital photonics sector so that they can grow further by increasing their exports?

Photonics is about the science of light generation and manipulation, Mr Speaker—of course, you and all other Members already knew that. DIT’s local international trade adviser engages with businesses in the photonics sector and with the Torbay Development Agency, and will soon address the Torbay manufacturing forum. DIT specialists will meet the Torbay Development Agency in January to review the marketing proposition for the sector, and a DIT sector specialist will visit Japan to promote UK photonics capability.

The south-west traditionally grows very fine livestock and has a buoyant export market. Will the Secretary of State give me and the farmers of Taunton Deane some assurance that if export certification demands increase as we leave the EU, the Government will give the right support to the agricultural industry, and will they look into the development of electronic systems to help the certification process?

Yes. The Government are committed to ensuring as smooth as possible an exit from the EU, including for all our business sectors, which obviously covers agriculture. Beyond that, the Department is particularly focused on finding new markets for our agricultural sector. There is substantial growth in demand for agricultural products in countries such as China and India. Given that the UK’s are the finest in the world, we should be at the forefront of those export markets.