International trade expert calls for SME focus in new export review

A new export strategy for the UK must focus on investment to support smaller businesses in the post-Brexit era, according to a Shropshire international trade expert.

Nicole Gunter, Managing Director of Global Freight
Nicole Gunter, Managing Director of Global Freight

Nicole Gunter is calling for the Government to review the practical and financial support on offer for SMEs in its export strategy, which is expected to be published in 2018.

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced moves in the new Industrial Strategy to drive up exports, currently worth around £550 billion to the UK economy.

Nicole, managing director of shipping specialist Global Freight, welcomed the planned new export strategy but was concerned that the Government’s commitment to deliver “better support for medium and larger business” could see smaller companies missing out.

“This review is urgently needed and I’m delighted to see promises in the Industrial Strategy to work with the private sector to ensure that the advice being given to exporters is good advice.

“This guidance will be vital as we leave the EU and while negotiations on new trade deals continue. The review will look at better support for medium and larger businesses to access new markets and export more and also identify smaller businesses with the potential to succeed and grow as exporters.

“But there is a swathe of small companies right across the country that are already exporting and they will also need better support to access high quality good advice and, of course, new markets too.”

The Government has promised that it will support businesses to access international markets by ensuring the right financial, practical, and promotional support in place for new and existing exporters to sell overseas.

The Government has said it intends to establish a network of nine UK Trade Commissioners, each developing a regional trade plan covering export promotion, investment and trade policy.

Global Freight works with a number of SME manufacturers in the county, and has seen a significant geographic shift in its shipments for clients.

“There’s no doubt that businesses are already preparing for what comes next, looking at developing new export markets outside of the EU, particularly with China, America and Australia.

“What we’re also seeing is a shift in supply chain work. Where customers may previously have imported components from Europe, they are now looking for alternative suppliers.

“They are either developing new relationships outside of Europe or focusing on building a local supply chain, which is obviously an opportunity for those supply chain businesses in the UK,” she added.

The Government is expected to report on its review of export support in the Spring.