30 November, 2012 - 22:20 By News Desk

This time already?

Every time I log onto the net at home a kindly advertiser reminds me how few sleeps there are to go to Christmas – I suppose counting shopping days is a bit old hat in the 24/7 economy.

It’s a scarily small number and I can’t be the only one who’s trying to work out what my team and I have achieved so far this business year and what’s left to do as well as planning for 2013/14.

I dislike planning for a single year but at least that annual cycle makes you focus on what worked well and what needs to be even better next time round.

So what have we done well?As a regional team we’re on track to meet our targets but more importantly we are assisting more companies every year to create wealth for themselves and growth in the economy.

One example is Luton-based Morris Gordon Engineering who recently clinched three deals worth in excess of £75,000 in Russia as a result of taking part in our October mission.

Managing director Chris Cleevely said: “I went on UKTI’s Passport to Export scheme a year ago, which is absolutely first class, and as a result we took part in the Russian trade mission. Do not be frightened by the Russian market. It is enormous and offers goods potential for anyone with a quality product.”

Here in the region we played a small but significant role in the business success of the 2012 Olympics and we're helping to capitalise on its legacy. This means, for example, that we're supporting Le Mark, the Huntingdon Company that supplied the floor for that fabulous opening ceremony, to use its Olympic success to break into more overseas markets. They have just been short-listed through to the final four companies for the International Trade Awards sponsored by American Express.

We have just put on a fantastic Export Week, with a flagship event that saw well over 200 companies meet at Duxford to get first hand market advice from over 60 overseas commercial officers as well as a range of other successful seminars and meetings.

Our export finance adviser is helping more and more companies get access to the funds they need to do overseas deals. Our region continues to be well supported by senior figures in the world of international trade, with another visit from Lord Green, this time to Cambridge on December 11, talking about the critical US marketplace. So a lot is going well.

And what’s still work in progress?UKTI is still something of a best kept secret – we need to change that, not only because Government is looking to us to find 100,000 more exporters nationally by 2020 but because by helping more companies export we help to create essential economic growth.

That figure of 100,000 translates by a process of simple arithmetic to 10,000 new exporters in the East of England. That’s a big ask.

Can we boost numbers on the scale Ministers have asked us to? Yes, we can, but only if we get the help we need from the many other organisations that support business growth. These are many and varied – too many to list here but among the key players are Chambers, employer organisations, banks, accountants, legal professionals, Local Enterprise Partnerships, trade associations and complementary government schemes like Growth Accelerator and the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

We all want to work together to bring value to our clients and members and to attract new companies into the fold – that goes without saying - but it can be hard to get the implementation right. So as we plan for next year we’ll be looking for even better ways to work with our partners, ways that show we mean business and bring real benefits to the companies we are all here to help.

As in so many areas of business life, communication is key. However, if you’re anything like me you struggle to read every piece of communication that finds its way into your inbox so I’ll take this opportunity to draw your attention to a part of the UKTI offer that should be very attractive to any business considering export or just starting out in international trade.

Export Insight is a series of low-cost, accessible visits to European markets designed for new and novice exporters. Ten visits remain open for registration between now and March 2013.

For eligible companies, a nominal fee of £99 + VAT covers group travel and accommodation and typically brings the following benefits:-

• An insight into market conditions, barriers and ways to overcome them from the British Embassy commercial teams in market

• A view of the market from the relevant British Overseas Chamber of Commerce

• First hand input from companies that have been there, done that and have the t shirt

• An invitation to an Embassy reception with invited business guests

All this will give participants an understanding that export can be a lot less scary and difficult than you might think, an understanding of the help that’s available from UKTI and its partners and a firm foundation for development of future international business.

My team in the East of England will be leading a visit to Paris on January 30 and, in partnership with Cambridge Airport, a visit to Brussels, covering all three Benelux markets flying out from Cambridge on February 4.

• Full details, including a list of all remaining dates and destinations, can be found at www.embltd.org.uk/ukti or call the UKTI East team on 0845 641 9955.

@UKTIEast

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