UK government called on to offer more support for exports

UK government called on to offer more support for exports

Cole Commission report urges UK government to further support and fund small exporters to help reach £1 trillion goal.

The UK’s government has been called upon to improve British exports by a new report, which suggests cabinet-led action to make it easier to support businesses. Commissioned by the last Labour opposition, the study said that improving UK exports was a “huge task” that should not be underestimated.

“On exports, the clock is ticking and the world isn’t waiting. Business has told us what it wants, when it wants it and how it wants it,” said Graham Cole, head of the Cole Commission and chairman of AgustaWestland.

£1 trillion of UK exports by the end of the decade

“There must be a role reversal where government sees business as the customer. Leadership has to come from the top.”

The report suggests that Prime Minister David Cameron should establish a new committee to help Britain achieve its goal of £1 trillion of UK exports by the end of the decade, and should encourage collaborative efforts between key trade bodies - such as UK Trade and Investment and UK Export Finance.

“This would ensure Whitehall has a central role to play in coordinating and driving the export agenda across government,” said Mr Cole.

“There should be a continued greater support from the Prime Minister for exports.”

Chancellor George Osborne and the Prime Minister have set the target for UK exports at £1 trillion by 2020, double the size that they are now. However, British exports have long been held back by the UK economy’s reliance on the service sector for growth, despite several initiatives like Export Week that have aimed to help small and medium-sized enterprises take their wares abroad.

Further help for medium-sized firms

The international director for the Confederation of British Industry, Simon Moore, called on the UK government to look “carefully” at the “thoughtful” recommendations of the Cole Commission.

"The economy is on a solid and sustainable footing, but the missing link remains a meaningful boost to our export performance,” he said.

"The review's strong focus on further help for medium-sized firms and a joined-up exports approach from business and the whole of Government, with cabinet-level leadership - both of which we called for - is particularly encouraging."

Five key priority areas were pointed out in the report, and it spelled out a timetable for delivery of between three months and five years. These included plans to reform UKTI and UKEF, to create a “one-stop shop” network around the world to support British businesses overseas, a public procurement strategy that aims to insert UK companies into supply chains, and a new education qualification in exports.

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