Export Strategy brings real opportunities, say small business owners

Responding to the launch of the Government’s Export Strategy, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Mike Cherry, said: “This strategy marks an important intervention. Properly executed, it will open up a lot of opportunities for small exporters, whilst helping to address some of the challenges they currently face on a daily basis.

“It is hugely welcome to see new targeted support for small firms taking part in trade fairs through the Pilot UK Tradeshow Programme. We have long campaigned for reform to its predecessor, the Trade Access Programme (TAP), and this revamped scheme will genuinely help small firms to increase their understanding of trade fairs as well as aiding with the significant costs that these events often involve. This is an important step for small firms, who rely on such fairs for taking their products and services overseas.

“It’s good to see so many of our recommendations being embraced as part of this new approach – from empowering small firms to realise the full benefits of free trade agreements, to informing them about the export finance and payment options available to them, to enabling them to access paperless trade, flexible funding and a reformed TAP.

“The Government is hoping to reach £1 trillion in exports target by 2030, but without small businesses, this may be unachievable, which is why the success of this strategy is so important.

“The announcement of plans to launch a new an Export Council to ensure the smooth and efficient implementation of this strategy is especially welcome. It’s vital that the voices of the hundreds of thousands of small exporters across the UK are heard by this body.  

“In practical terms, the benefits of this new strategy should be manifold: the new Pilot UK Tradeshow Programme should help small firms to access, and have the funding to attend, trade shows; expansion of the Export Academy will mean more SMEs can take advantage of the support it offers; and the switch to electronic documentation will help streamline the exporting process for smaller firms struggling under the weight of paperwork.  

“While there is much to welcome in this strategy, more can still be done. The missing piece of the puzzle is a revamped and relaunched SME Brexit Support Fund, designed to help smaller firms access the technical skills and advice they need to succeed internationally. This needs to be available for small firms to use both inside and out of the EU, with a streamlined application process as well as generous funding which will help small firms overcome some of the trade barriers they’ve recently been faced with.

“It’s fantastic that this anticipated strategy is now a reality. Against a backdrop of supply chain disruption, the introduction of import checks and spiralling shipping fees, swift installation of the many welcome measures contained within it is a must. Delays will only dampen the spirits of small exporters who are keen crack on.

“More than 25 per cent of FSB members currently export. The potential to grow that figure is there if the right support in place, and this strategy from DIT provides real building blocks for that growth. FSB stands ready to help Government and small businesses make the most of this Strategy, including via our new Trade Advisory Hub.”