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Export Opportunities for SMEs

Volume 727: debated on Thursday 9 February 2023

3 What steps her Department is taking to help increase export opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. (903565)

UK exports have grown by 24% year on year, and our landmark 12-point export strategy will challenge Government and the private sector to reach £1 trillion-worth of exports a year. As part of that strategy, we created the export support service, which has brought together helplines and services across Government to build a one-stop shop for UK exporters facing challenges in exporting to the EU. We are also delivering for businesses through our dedicated team of international trade advisers, reinforced by Department for International Trade events and programmes such as the UK Export Academy.

Last month, I was delighted to co-host my first successful export academy at Kirklees College in association with the Department for International Trade and UK Export Finance. Will the Minister outline how local DIT officers and UKEF can assist SMEs to export their goods and services across the world?

Mr Speaker, may I first thank you for your leadership in hosting President Zelensky yesterday? It really was a humbling moment for us all. My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mark Eastwood), with his can-do attitude, is constantly championing everybody in Dewsbury. As he may know, UK Export Finance offers a range of trade, finance and insurance products to help small and medium-sized businesses fulfil export contracts. It works with more than 100 private sector partners, including all major UK banks. UKEF support is underpinned by the innovative general export facility, a product designed to give SME exporters more flexibility when accessing trade finance. It unlocked almost £250 million of working capital loans in the last financial year. Local trade has obviously helped strengthen the “Made in the UK” branding, which provides export support to SMEs across the country. Face-to-face support for exporters in England is delivered via a network of around 200 international trade advisers. There is so much to say, but I think I should stop there.

SMEs in my area have been doing a huge amount of business internationally. One such company has been exporting 80% of its business for decades. In recent years, it has been challenged by China, and has had intellectual property issues; its IP has been stolen. I am afraid to say that it felt unsupported by the Department for International Trade. It faces an issue in Germany. Will the Minister meet me to help this business with the challenge that it faces in those countries?

The beauty of having former business Ministers in the new Department is that we are across most of these issues, including the issue of IP. I am more than happy to sit down with the hon. Gentleman, or to make sure that the right Minister does, because we need to protect our IP.