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Suffolk: Chamber urges more of county’s firms to consider exporting

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 August 2014

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is urging more businesses across the county to target potential export customers.

The appeal follows the publication of national research which suggests that half of all UK businesses have yet to consider expanding their offer overseas.

“This important national research means we are calling for two things,” said John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber. “Firstly, we are encouraging more Suffolk businesses to ‘look beyond our shores’ and secondly there needs to be increased support for both existing and potential exporters so the UK can fulfil its true potential as a leading export nation.”

The national report, published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), of which Suffolk Chamber is an accredited member, examines the barriers facing existing and potential UK exporters, drawing on responses from more than 4,700 businesses.

“The results show that while the majority of firms have ambitions to grow domestically, less than half are looking to expand their business overseas,” said Mr Dugmore. “This suggests there is great potential for further exporting activity to deliver economic and employment growth across Suffolk and the UK.”

Only half of the businesses surveyed have ambitions to grow internationally which, the BCC believes, shows that the UK needs to do more to take the fear out of exporting and to create an environment that makes it worthwhile for them to export.

In growing current markets, access to distribution channels (30%) is of greatest concern but the impact of regulations of trade restrictions (27%) and language and cultural differences (20%) are also significant. These factors also feature in consideration of new export markets, but the influence of regulations is more significant (37%) which may reflect greater sensitivity to these issues in new markets.

BCC says it its report: “In today’s global marketplace, businesses often do not realise that for their goods and services, international opportunities could greatly exceed those on offer in domestic markets.

“This may be caused by lower competition in certain countries or simply heightened demand for a specific product/service. Although the UK economy is delivering growth, many businesses do not realise that exporting not only provides additional revenue, it can also diversify risk.

“By not exporting, businesses become dependent on the economic health of a single market. Being proactive about diversification insures businesses against poor economic conditions in one part of the globe. This is a great way to manage risk and become more profitable in the process.”

Mr Dugmore added: “The UK should be matching the level of resourcing dedicated to export support provided by our major international competitors.

“Government intervention must be more focused in areas that can really make a difference, such as providing greater access to finance to growing firms, particularly when a quarter of non-exporters say that increased funding would encourage them to export.”

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