Trade body representatives to call for government export investment

GulfHost exhibitors are some of the beneficiaries of the Tradeshow Access Programme funding.GulfHost exhibitors are some of the beneficiaries of the Tradeshow Access Programme funding.

A roll-call of leading trade associations representing British industry sectors, including CESA, is organising a multi sector Export Briefing and Reception in the House of Commons next Tuesday.

Delivering presentations highlighting British export success across the country in overseas markets to invited MPs, Ministers, Lords and senior civil servants, will be a wide range of entrepreneurs who have utilised the services of trade associations to deliver export support, using the government’s Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP). Keynote speakers will Barry Gardiner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade and Shadow Minister, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; and Tim Collins, chairman of Sponsors’ Alliance, a not-for-profit trade body representing over 50 national trade associations including CESA.

The TAP scheme, which has been in operation in various forms for over 25 years, is claimed to be a successful and cost-effective method of helping British firms to participate in major trade exhibitions across the world. UK exhibitors at these shows are said to win a minimum of £35 in new export business for every £1 of Tradeshow Access Programme grant received.

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However, the Sponsors’ Alliance highlighted that government only announced funding for the first half of the current financial year (ie, from 1 April until 30 September) at the end of February and has announced another review of the TAP scheme, which is expected to take place in May this year and of which the outcome is uncertain.

Collins commented: “Exporters need certainty in terms of support from government, as their own budgets and business plans have to be set well in advance of any investment and commitment to the long term development of a success export strategy.

“However, sadly the Tradeshow Access Programme budget has dropped over the past 15 years from £21.9m in 2002 down to £9.1m in the 2016-2017 financial year. That’s a mere fraction of the support given to exporters in other countries such as Germany, Italy, even Turkey. And businesses and the trade associations have no current idea what the second half of the financial year will hold in terms of government TAP support, leaving businesses unable to plan effectively and associations unable to hold on to the prime stand positions they have been building up over many years of providing export support.”

Collins pointed out: “As we move towards Brexit, British firms are clamouring for greater support to be made available, either directly or via their sector-specific trade associations, to give them continuity of practical export help, advice, international sales leads and a presence in front of buyers at international trade exhibitions so they can open up or expand export sales. Such additional commitment by government would give hard-pressed businesses a fighting chance of delivering new export sales and securing greater international business to benefit the UK’s trading figures.”

At the House of Commons Export Briefing, Sponsors’ Alliance will be launching its Manifesto for Export Support: Driving UK Exports, which is supported by 50-plus Sponsors’ Alliance trade association members. Across Sponsors’ Alliance sectors, there are 26,000 active exporters, which generate over £110bn exports per year.

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