CBI calls for ‘one-stop export shop’

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne arrives at the Prime Minister's offices in Beijing, China, during a visit aimed at boosting British exports  Photo:  Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne arrives at the Prime Minister's offices in Beijing, China, during a visit aimed at boosting British exports Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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BRITAIN needs a new independent commission to improve the country’s export performance, according to a report from a major industry pressure group.

The CBI report argues that a national Exports Commission would play a major role in helping British firms reach out to global markets.

In the report – Best in Class – the CBI calls for the creation of a body similar to the Low Pay Commission, or the recently established Infrastructure Commission, for exports.

A CBI spokesman said: “Critically, it would bring together businesses – from multinationals to growing MSBs (medium-sized businesses) and first-time exporters – economists, and a cross-party bench of politicians to give independent advice to the Government on long-term export targets and the policies needed to deliver them.”

The report compares the policies and structures that other countries, such as the US, Singapore, Sweden, and Germany have implemented to improve their exporting track record. The report calls for a ‘one stop shop’ of Government support and advice for exporters on a single, easily navigable website.

According to the CBI, 28 per cent of MSBs – the UK’s prime potential exporters – are put off selling their goods and services overseas because of problems finding the right opportunities,

The CBI report also calls for an agreement over a “clear division of responsibilities” before there is any further devolution of export support to the regions and nations.

Simon Moore, the CBI international director, said: “Britain’s robust economic recovery has been the envy of many of our international peers, but our export performance has struggled to keep up the pace.

“It’s vital that our future prosperity is not compromised by political point-scoring.

“An independent, national exports commission, bringing together for the first time exporters and politicians to create targets and policies, would provide firms with long-term certainty over Government policy and put business feedback at the heart of decisions over future priorities.

“A more commercially focused UKTI, coupled with a joined-up approach to export policy and support right across Government – which we have long called for – will lead to more firms, especially growing ones, moving their goods and services around the globe.”

The CBI is calling for the creation of two new export finance products to plug the gap in trade finance for small and MSB exporters.

It wants the Government to protect the “sharp end” of business support overseas, with savings focused instead on streamlining support in Whitehall.

The CBI wants to see “more innovative collaboration between UKTI and businesses” to improve the commercial awareness of UKTI staff, and foster knowledge sharing between them.

A UKTI spokesman said: “Improving the UK’s export performance remains a key Government priority, with UKTI leading the drive to ensure businesses are best supported to realise their potential in overseas markets.

“As part of this work, the new Exporting is GREAT campaign includes a single online platform for businesses to access live opportunities and support, and we will continue to work closely with industry to help more businesses succeed overseas.

“A cross-Whitehall Export Taskforce has also been established to look at what more the Government can do to improve the UK’s export performance.”