Business West, the largest international trade support organisation in the South West, has signed four major international partnership agreements with business bodies across China, India, Latin America and South East Asia to help local businesses expand their global footprint.
Agreements with the China Britain Business Council (CBBC), the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), Latin American Economic Growth Management and the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) will see Business West engage in a spectrum of activity to help boost firms’ export sales in these high-growth markets. This will include market entry strategy and planning, and the facilitation of in-country specialist support, all delivered free of charge to eligible businesses.
Speaking about the move, Business West’s John Rubidge, head of innovation in services, explained:
“The South West region is home to a large number of companies in the Food and Drink and Tech industries, for example, whose products and services are strongly in demand in high-growth nations across Asia and Latin America.
“Unfortunately, however, many of the companies who are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities lack the expertise or resources required to find overseas buyers, resulting in an uphill struggle to gain a foothold in these markets. That is where we come in.
Extend your Global Reach, a new support programme, is designed to help exporters overcome this challenge by fostering relationships on the ground with key business contacts overseas.”
The variety of opportunities open to South West firms in these high-growth markets is hugely diverse, as Sarah Hildersley, Business West’s market specialist for Latin America confirms:
“I recently returned from a visit to Colombia and the country’s congress has just signed a new peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), putting a welcome end to the conflict that traumatized the country for so long.
“As a result, the Colombian market is becoming increasingly open to new goods, technologies and services from abroad. The newly formed Ministry of Post Conflict is embarking upon a number of ambitious projects to help the economy recover and to ensure that the benefits of peace are felt by all communities.
“Therefore there is massive scope for South West companies specialising in education, healthcare, oil and gas and renewable energy development, for example, to export to Columbia, a country that is now very much open for business.”
Discussing how Business West’s partnership agreements will enhance the capacity of the international trade team to deliver export growth in these geographies Jonathan Smith, market specialist for China, commented:
“It is vital that anyone looking to export to China visits the country regularly in order to see for themselves what's going on and to keep their contacts fresh.
“The expert insights, networks, policy, advocacy, services and facilities that the CBBC provide are therefore invaluable.”
Illustrating how the support offered by the partner organisations works in practice, Ameeta Virk, Business West’s market specialist for India commented:
“Enjoying growth rates of over 7%, India has emerged as the second fastest growing economy in the world, driven to a large extent by a rapidly expanding middle class with increased levels of disposable income. The regulatory environment has improved but this country’s bureaucracy remains complex. India has one Union Government and many state, city, and rural administrations.
“For most UK companies, successfully navigating this complexity and accessing the opportunities that the different regions present certainly is not easy. This is where UK India Business Council (UKIBC) comes in, providing market expertise, identifying suitable partners, and promoting the interests of South West businesses to government ministries and departments.”
While the overarching objective of the Extend your Global Reach programme is to help more South West businesses export overseas, the timing of these announcements reflects an increased appetite abroad to expand bilateral trade with the UK:
Tan Sri Michael Yeoh of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute explained:
“South East Asia, home to 600 million people and a GDP of 2.4 trillion USD, is one of the world’s fastest growing regions with an economy that is expected to grow at 5% a year between 2014 and 2018.
“This new partnership will not only enable ASLI to assist SMEs from the UK find new business opportunities, but help contribute to strengthening the bilateral ties”.
Extend Your Global Reach is available to SMEs based in the South West of England with at least £2m annual turnover and sufficient resources to invest into market entry in the chosen market (Latin America, India, China or South East Asia).
To find out more about accessing export opportunities in high-growth markets or for further information about Extend Your global Reach, contact us on 01275 774 438, click here for more information or Download an application form to get started.
If you'd like to get to know our market specialists, meet the team here.