Liam Fox: New MP Toolkit will help local businesses realise their exporting potential
Boosting UK exports is a task that requires all hands on deck – the support of Members of Parliament is crucial, writes Liam Fox
It’s been almost a year since the Department for International Trade (DIT) launched the UK’s ambitious Export Strategy to increase exports to 35% of GDP, ensuring that the UK remains one of the greatest trading nations. Just yesterday DIT celebrated its third anniversary, and today we are launching an MP Toolkit as the next step in helping businesses up and down the country to realise their exporting potential.
The MP Toolkit will provide MPs with the tools they need to help businesses in their constituencies increase their exporting ambitions. DIT estimates that there are 600 businesses in any given constituency who have goods or services that could be sold overseas but aren’t.
In the three years since DIT was established, we have helped British businesses succeed overseas in ways that never happened before. Between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2019, we supported foreign direct investment projects which created 183,815 new jobs.
In the same period, we backed UK firms with support to export £99bn worth of goods and services. Analysis by the Institute for Economic Affairs has estimated that this could potentially generate around £32bn for the Exchequer to pay for schools, hospitals and other public services.
In 2017-18 alone, our award-winning credit agency, UK Export Finance, provided £2.5bn worth of support to 191 companies exporting to 75 markets around the world. We have nine Trade Commissioners promoting British trade and prosperity across the world, with a new Trade Commissioner for Australasia announced last week. We have trade advisers across the UK helping firms navigate the exporting process. Our website great.gov.uk helps businesses identity export opportunities overseas and connect with international buyers.
There is much to be proud of and there is even more to be done. Boosting UK exports is a task that requires all hands on deck, and the support of Members of Parliament is crucial in ensuring that British businesses can take advantage of the numerous exporting opportunities and support available to them.
Exporting not only helps businesses grow, but also creates jobs, boosts wages and builds resilience. As Members of Parliament, we all have a responsibility to support our constituents as we look to a world beyond Europe and a time beyond Brexit. We must ensure that the UK’s export performance is as strong as it possibly can be. The MP Toolkit we are launching today guarantees that all MPs can be a part of Britain’s trading success.
Many businesses do not think their products or services can be sold overseas, while others think exporting is too difficult. As International Trade Secretary, I have travelled across the world and seen first-hand the demand for British products.
MPs are in a unique position to help local businesses begin their export journey or expand their global reach. The support is out there, and we have a responsibility to deliver this message. We must show businesses that it is possible to export, and we must highlight businesses already successfully selling overseas.
I urge fellow MPs to act as local trade ministers in their constituencies to champion the benefits of exporting – whether that’s by encouraging local businesses to take the first step, directing them to DIT services, hosting trade promotion and networking events in their constituencies or celebrating local business success stories.
The global headwinds are getting stronger and we face a world economic slowdown. DIT is starting to show what a real international trade policy can deliver for the UK, in jobs, investment and income for our public services, and this is just the beginning. Now is the time to for MPs to get behind DIT so that we can give British business the backing it needs to grasp golden opportunities on the global stage.
Liam Fox is Conservative MP for North Somerset and Secretary of State for International Trade