Export minister urges businesses to use government aid to grow overseas sales after Covid and after Brexit
Britain’s export secretary has urged UK businesses to make greater use of government aid to help them expand overseas sales.
Speaking during a visit to three Leicestershire exporters, MP Mike Freer said less than 15% of businesses were able to sell their products and services overseas.
And he said there was no reason to fear the potential barriers and red tape caused by Brexit.
He told BusinessLive: “I think the key messages are that only one in seven companies that can export, does, and there’s a huge opportunity there.
“And if anyone thinks they want to export or talk about the opportunities, they should contact our local teams. We have teams on standby who will hold their hand and help them make that first overseas sale.
“Once they do that, I think they will find it easier than expected and more profitable, because we know that exporting companies are more profitable and tend to have more skilled jobs, which which is also good for the local economy.”
On New Year’s Eve, Boris Johnson pledged to ‘maximize the benefits of Brexit’ in 2022 as consumers were warned to prepare for further disruption as new rules came into play.
The Prime Minister, marking a year since the entry into force of the post-Brexit free trade agreement with the European Union, said the government would “go further and faster” to take advantage of “the enormous potential that our new freedoms bring” in the new year.
The start of 2022 ushered in new trade barriers with the bloc, with rules saying importers must make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK from the EU or other countries.
Traders will no longer be able to delay making full import customs declarations for up to 175 days, a measure which was introduced to deal with the disruption of Brexit.
Long HGV queues on both sides of the Channel in recent days have been partly blamed on drivers who failed to fill out the correct paperwork.
Mr Freer spoke during a visit to Long Clawson Dairy, near Melton, one of the few Stilton cheese factories in the area.
He was also visiting the Leicester headquarters of antibacterial maker Micro-Fresh, which does business around the world, and Loughborough-based drugmaker Morningside Pharmaceuticals.
Mr Freer said: “As Minister for Exports, my job is to make sure that the markets we operate in and the markets in which we should operate are open to producers and exporters.
“But it’s also about listening to the concerns they have and the particular obstacles they face when trying to act in a new market.”
He said there was a ‘massive’ appetite for British goods overseas, but said many businesses faced ‘headwinds’ such as supply chain costs, shortages labor and pricing in some markets.
He said: “Every business in the world has to deal with these headwinds.
“What the Department of International Trade can do, particularly in dealing with our European markets – which are always a very important and very important market for us – is that we have the export support service, which is specially designed to help exporters like Long Clawson where they encounter a particular problem, which may be paperwork or an overzealous interpretation of the rules.
“Whatever the issue is in a particular market or port, we raise it with our European counterparts to resolve the issue.”
Asked if Long Clawson’s management said they were badly affected by Brexit, he said: “Not particularly.
“We talked about global markets – they already export to 42 countries and they realize there’s a huge market there and they talked to us about how they can tap into these new growing markets, not just the markets they already deal with.
“They recognize that there is a growth of economies and of the middle classes and the purchasing power that this brings, outside of the EU, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Micro-Fresh founder Byron Dixon OBE said he raised the fact that post-Brexit Canada has added more red tape on the safety classifications of imports such as its products – although they have already went through security checks at home.
He also said that products sent to his Dutch distributor were taxed again when sent outside the EU.
He said the minister listened to his concerns and took notes.
Morningside has been manufacturing and supplying generic medicines in the UK and countries around the world for three decades.
It is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of medicines to international aid organisations.
The Founder and Chairman, Dr. Nik Kotecha OBE, is also a Department of International Trade (DIT) Export Champion.
He said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Minister Mike Freer MP to our Loughborough site, which like so many businesses in the East Midlands benefits from excellent road and rail links, as well as our proximity to the most UK’s largest pure cargo airport, East Midlands. Airport.
“Morningside is a generic drug manufacturer and supplier and has exported to over 120 countries since its inception.
“We are extremely proud to be based in the East Midlands, which together with the West Midlands is the manufacturing and export heart of England.
“We hope that the visit of the Minister of Exports will help to highlight the excellent global opportunities available to companies based in the region, as well as open the doors to central government funding to support the future growth of our businesses and our communities”.