Club aims to drive up Westcountry exports
A new international trade club which has been launched in Plymouth is seeking to bolster export levels in the region, which lags behind other parts of the UK when it comes to overseas sales.
Plymouth Chamber of Commerce is holding the first meeting of its International Trade Club on September 12, from 5.45pm at the Tamar Science Park.
As well as information about trade with the eurozone, the event will looking at emerging markets in Eastern Europe and Mexico.
Speakers will include: John Pearson, First Secretary at the British Embassy in Mexico; David Conn of Tavistock-based Broadley Speaking; Karine Davies, from UK Trade and Investment; and Anne-Marie Martin, CEO of the Council of European Chambers of Commerce.
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Plymouth Chamber's project manager Cate Taynton said: "It's an opportunity for businesses who are already involved in exports through to those who might never have thought of it. One of the challenges we have found is that people are so busy trying to run their businesses that they don't have time to find out what's available."
Although export levels in the South West are increasing year-on-year, figures from HMRC earlier this year showed that the region had the lowest level of international trade in the country.
From January to March 2013, the value of exports reached nearly £3.4 billion, a 4.8% increase on last year. Despite this, however, the region still accrued the UK's smallest total value of exports at £12.7 billion for the year ending March 2013, accounting for just 5.7% of England's total and representing a 1.5% drop from the previous year.
Trade club meetings will be held quarterly, with Ms Taynton saying that its name had been chosen carefully. "I think if you say 'export' then you tend to think of manufacturing a product that you physically send abroad but it's also about providing services," she said.
She said that firms needed to look further than the UK and traditional export markets for sales, with emerging markets offering plenty of opportunities.
"There are significant challenges in the eurozone. I think the view is that it's always going to be an important part of UK trading markets and currently the bulk of exports do go to the eurozone market but it's clear that we need to look further than the eurozone," she said.
"There are some really exciting emerging markets. It's about opening people's eyes. It's easier to look further afield than just over the channel – the world is becoming a small place and it's about getting into emerging, high growth markets, not just Brazil, South America, India and China."