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East Midlands Chamber News

Criticism of UKTI is not completely fair says Chamber’s international lead

Laura HowardMounting criticism of UK Trade & Investment has itself been criticised by East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire).

Earlier this year, David Cameron announced plans to shift to individual Government departments the responsibility for driving exports.

Each department would have to report back to a task force led by Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The move could, it is feared, lead to job losses at UKTI and, potentially, the demise of the organisation.

An influential Sunday newspaper led further criticism of UKTI, suggesting it was failing to meet Government-set targets for export growth.

A target of £1trn of exports by 2020 has been set, but export growth at current rates mean the target will be missed.

Most recently, the criticism has widened with broadcaster Jeremy Vine discussing the issue on his lunchtime show on Radio 2 last week.

Laura Howard, Head of International Trade for the Chamber, said: “I don’t believe the critics are being completely fair. The Chamber’s own figures show exports to the commercial invoice value of £63m across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire in July compared with an average monthly figure of £40m.

“UKTI provides a vital link for firms wanting to begin exporting or those already exporting but looking for new overseas markets.

“Each of its regional offices has a wealth of local knowledge which is an essential tool for companies seeking to secure overseas business.

She added that UKTI had been a long-standing partner of the Chamber in one of the region’s biggest annual international trade events – the Midlands International Trade Expo and Conference.

M-ITEC has been run for the past five years by the Chamber in partnership with UKTI and will be held on 13 October this year at the iPro Stadium, Pride Park, Derby.

“It attracts hundreds of delegates and provides companies looking for new overseas markets with direct contact with experts from their target markets,” said Laura.

Ian Harrison, UK Trade & Investment Regional Director for East Midlands said – “While it is true that it will be very challenging to hit the £1trn figure, we have certainly moved much closer towards achieving this goal with the investment and priority that Government is putting behind the exporting agenda.

“We know that exporting is vital for the long-term health of companies and also for the region. Companies that export grow faster than those that don’t and are more profitable than firms that remain solely dependent on customers at home.

“While the number of exporters in Q1 2015 stood at 3,888, a rise from 3,872 in Q1 2014, we are clear that we need more firms following the example of their peers and taking the decision to win business abroad. This is why we are pleased to be working closely with the Chamber at events like M-ITEC to encourage more businesses to use our support to generate new sales.”