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Creative Industries Exports: Publishing Industry

Volume 776: debated on Thursday 27 October 2016


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the publishing industry ahead of the development of the Department for International Trade’s creative industries export strategy.

My Lords, the Department for International Trade holds regular discussions with the Publishers Association. Working in partnership, we are supporting this important sector to grow exports. This takes many forms, and includes enabling UK businesses to attend international trade fairs and hosting an international business lounge at the London Book Fair.

Does the Minister share my astonishment that publishing, the fastest-growing creative industry exporter—a sector that has doubled book export revenues from China alone in the past four years—has been completely left out of the Department for International Trade’s five-year campaign for creative industries? In a post-Brexit world, can we really afford to ignore this great British success?

DCMS is doing quite a lot in that area. We are ensuring that the level of support for the creative industries is maintained and enhanced, because part of our whole trade strategy is that we would like to have a unique, bespoke strategy for each of our trade sectors. We are talking and listening to the various sectors to make sure that we get the very best.

My Lords, in previous Questions on this matter, we have learnt that there have been substantial cuts in support for exporters, particularly those in the creative industries, in recent years. I would be grateful if the Minister could remind us what the current state of play is. Will there be more money to make sure that people can attend trade missions and other important areas where they can do business?

I think some positive news is that the Creative Industries Council’s Brexit report, which was commissioned by the Government to explore priorities within the UK creative industries following Brexit, will be launched this afternoon, and we will be looking at all the issues that the noble Lord has raised.

My Lords, we have not yet really heard from the Minister what evidence the Department for International Trade will require, and regard as sufficient, from the publishing industry to give it the support it needs. Is this another example of a government department not having the necessary post-Brexit skills required to do the necessary for the British economy?

No, I disagree. We are expanding our trade policy capability very rapidly. The department has recruited a new senior team on trade policy, and we will continue to hire the brightest and best talent from within the UK Civil Service and elsewhere, in order to deliver the very best outcomes for the UK—looking in particular, too, at the creative industries sector, which is very important.

My Lords, will the noble Baroness inform us how the Department for International Trade will organise itself? Will it have experts in particular fields who really understand how particular industries operate and what might be the scope for international trade, or will it simply rely on generic civil servants providing work in that area?

Yes, we are going to expand the capability within the Department for International Trade, but we are also working with other departments and tapping into the potential and ability in those departments as well.

My Lords, surely the success story here is the fact that the creative industries have done so well in exporting to places such as China, with minimal government support.

I agree with my noble friend. Publishing exports increased by 166% between 2009 and 2014 and total exports were worth £2.1 billion. All sorts of interesting things are happening with geographical shifts towards markets in the Middle East and Asia. This sector looks as if it will continue to grow. It definitely has the support of government behind it.

My Lords, one of the most promising creative industries in this country is the music industry, particularly our outstanding conservatoires, one of which I am proud to be chairman of. What is the Minister doing to encourage students from outside and inside the EU who make connections in this industry to continue to come here to ensure that our music is exported and these connections continue? At the moment, there is increasing nervousness about Brexit and the risk that students are turning away and thinking of conservatoires in other countries.

I assure the noble Lord that there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK or of British citizens in the EU since the referendum. As regards his very positive note about the music sector, the Department for International Trade has relaunched the Music Export Growth Scheme with £2.8 million of grant support being made available to music SMEs up to 2020.

My Lords, in view of the increased role that e-books have in the publishing industry, and given the ease with which they can be exported, what discussions are the Government having with Amazon, which tends to dominate this trade?