Supporting international trade
A British Trade International case study

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Page 5: Benefits of Government support

British Trade International 5 Image 7The UK is one of the world’s major trading nations. Income from the sale of goods and services overseas represents almost 30% of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product. These are the earnings generated through British organisations and their investments both within and outside the UK. Compare that with the United States and Japan, whose shares of exports in GDP terms are much lower at around ten per cent each.

The term ‘exports’ now takes on a much broader meaning than in the past. It includes both receipts from the sale of goods and payments made for the sale of services. It places financial services, for example, alongside major and successful manufacturing sector exporters. Services now comprise about a quarter of total exports. Income also comes from substantial overseas investments made by UK firms.

Practical advice

British Trade International does not win orders for UK businesses, but it does provide information that allows businesses to succeed internationally. Some organisations encounter many problems in getting accurate information about opportunities in particular markets. They also want to know the best ways to take advantage of them. The Government helps through British Trade International. Britain’s image overseas as a desirable trading partner is significant as it helps to create a climate in which UK firms can secure important business opportunities.

British Trade International 5 Image 5British Trade International aims to give British business organisations a real edge in world markets by bringing together national, regional, local and international operations under one single strategy.

Access to British Trade International’s services is through Business Links in England, and Scottish Trade International, National Assembly for Wales and Trade International Northern Ireland in the respective devolved administrations. Export Development Counsellors are situated in a number of Business Links. They offer specialist advice on international trade and especially help develop export strategies.

British Trade International provides a range of advice - from start-up information, to innovation and technological services. There are many other services, some of which are tailored to the needs of groups of customers. The services are extensively used. For example, over 10,000 companies are supported at international trade shows, annually.

British Trade International is advised by over 200 senior UK businessmen on its strategy. Work is ongoing to ensure the services match the needs of the customers. Recent initiatives include the Export USA programme which aims to help new, inexperienced exporters offering innovative products or services to access the US market. Key elements of this programme are:

  • one-on-one mentoring from Commercial Officers at Posts
  • a market assessment
  • a short marketing course at a business school
  • funding of an air ticket to a relevant trade fair or conference.

For new exporters, there is an export initiative for Western Europe. The Export Explorer package will allow new exporters to undertake prepared visits to some accessible markets and trade fairs in Western Europe for £99.00 plus travel and accommodation.

Trade Policy Directorate

Without open overseas markets, our businesses could not export the top quality goods and services for which Britain is renowned. One major addition to this export promotion work is the role of the Trade Policy Directorate of the DTI. Businesses should be able to trade without facing high tariffs, discriminatory regulations or unnecessarily burdensome procedures.

Removing the trade barriers which limit their performance is important for British exports. The Trade Policy Directorate presses for the removal of trade barriers through the European Union and through the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement system. Its role in enabling firms to achieve international sales must not be overlooked.

British Trade International | Supporting international trade