BCC address at launch of HM Government's export strategy

Speech by Dr. Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce
Launch of HM Government's Export Strategy
London, 21 August 2018

Secretary of State, Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen – good morning.

My name is Adam Marshall, and I am the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce.

It is my great pleasure to be here with you today, and to partner with the Department for International Trade for the launch of its new Export Strategy. 

INTRODUCTION

As many of you know, international trade is at the core of the mission of Chambers of Commerce all across the UK. 

Every year, Chambers directly support more than 30,000 businesses exporting goods and services overseas. Last year alone, Chambers helped ensure that over 680,000 shipments cleared customs around the world, ensuring British exports worth over £22bn reached their final destination. British Chambers from Birmingham and Bristol to Buenos Aires and Bangkok helped thousands of UK companies take their first steps into new markets and win new business. 

Chambers don’t just talk about international trade – it’s right at the heart of what we do. We work with other private sector organisations, and with the agencies and departments of HM Government, to make trade happen day in and day out. 

TRADE STRATEGY

Over the decades, we have seen a number of trade and export strategies and schemes come and go.

We’ve learned from experience, that businesses hear of a strategy or initiative after one year, engage after five, and only truly feel comfortable after ten. So it is absolutely critical, at a time of immense change for the UK economy, to get our national approach to trade and export right. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, we believe export success has four ingredients:

- First, the best possible business environment at home – where dynamic companies have every incentive to invest and grow.

- Second, products and services that are second to none – where quality and reputation underpin competitiveness. 

- Third, consistent efforts to promote the best of British around the world, and 

- Fourth, a strong trade policy that helps UK companies and sectors build on their competitive advantages. 

The comprehensive Export Strategy that the Minister and Secretary of State will launch today is crucially important. So, too, is ‘fixing the fundamentals’ to support growth here in the United Kingdom.

‘FIXING THE FUNDAMENTALS’

What do I mean by ‘fixing the fundamentals’?  

Airports with capacity for direct flights to link British businesspeople and goods to customers around the world.

Digital infrastructure that’s in the global top 10, not languishing at 35th place in the rankings – and frustrating the aspirations of our world-beating services firms.

Clear immigration and training policies, that let UK firms secure talent from around the world – and train up the next generation of entrepreneurs here at home.

Good access to finance, sensible levels of regulation and low up-front taxes and costs, to encourage businesses to invest, rather than avoid risk.

Yes, 

EXPORT STRATEGY

The issues we will discuss today – around how to encourage, inform, connect and finance UK exporters – are fundamental. 

Getting day-to-day support for exports right is as important as efforts to negotiate new trade deals – which seem to capture much of the political and media attention.

We have amazing firms in this country. In Chamber membership alone – I kid you not – we have UK firms that export sand to Saudi Arabia, tea to China, ice cream to customers above the Arctic Circle, and much more besides.

Trusted, face-to-face support is key to their success. 

When firms get the information and connections they need to develop new markets and find new customers – that is when we see confidence, investment, and results. 

Working together, business and government have a real opportunity to help our fantastic firms raise their sights even higher. 

We warmly welcome the government’s pledge in the new Export Strategy to work hand-in-hand with business to unlock opportunities for UK firms all across the globe. 

Working together here at home and overseas, we can provide a springboard for many more companies to take risks – and go for growth. 

CONCLUSION

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my privilege to introduce Baroness Rona Fairhead, Minister of State for Export Promotion – who will introduce the new Export Strategy. 

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