This week commencing 19th October, the Government has launched an Export Growth Plan to support businesses in the South West to recover and grow through international trade.
The newly introduced funds aim to support local jobs and get businesses back on their feet after a tumultuous year triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit uncertainty.
The news comes shortly after a Business West survey revealed that the number of businesses in the South West reporting an increase in domestic sales dropped from 28% in the third quarter of 2019 to just 11% in the same period this year.
The survey also revealed that less than half (45%) of businesses surveyed stated they were ‘optimistic’ or ‘very optimistic’ regarding the future.
The new Export Growth Plan includes 12 new International Trade Advisors (ITAs) as well as sector-specific support through “bounce-back” plans for industries including tech, retail, agriculture and food and drink.
An Export Academy has also been set up to support smaller businesses in the South West to start exporting. This will include a series of activities such as masterclasses and virtual trade missions that aim to increase business confidence and export capability.
A £3.6 million South Internationalisation Fund for small businesses has also been introduced, which will support up to 720 businesses in the South West to grow their business and maximise profits between 2020-2023.
Monday 19th October also saw the new Board of Trade hold its first meeting, which will result in the production of a series of reports looking at the issues surrounding international trade in Britain. These reports will cover issues such as the role of trade in levelling-up Britain and how trade can deliver an industrial revival.
The Board will act as an advisory for the Department for International Trade, providing expertise while presenting research to influence government trade policy.
Commenting on the introduction of the Export Growth Plan and the new Board of Trade, James Monk, Director of Commercial Services at Business West said:
“The new funding and support for businesses in the South West will allow firms to take advantage of the new opportunities arising as the government negotiates new trade deals across the world.
“We want all businesses, whether large or small to feel empowered to take their product or service into new global markets and I feel reassured that the export support plan, delivered by our DIT advisers at Business West will make a huge difference for these companies.
“The new Board of Trade will play a crucial role in levelling-up the South West region and build back businesses and communities after a challenging year for most.”
Businesses who need more information about the Internationalisation Fund including eligibility and how to apply can contact one of DIT’s International Trade Advisers in the South West on 01275 774 456 or visit https://www.businesswest.co.uk/department-international-trade-south-west.