Paul Griffiths from Northamptonshire Chamber writes for the Telegraph
Our latest Quarterly Economic Survey results, which were published at the beginning of April, highlighted a growing trend in Northamptonshire when it came to exporting.
For the fourth consecutive quarter, the number of companies in the county exporting went up – which is great news for the Northamptonshire economy.
It is positive to see more of our local companies turning to exporting to grow their business.
We have some amazing products and services on our doorstep and through exporting these to foreign markets, we can become world leaders. It is also a good example of businesses adapting well to changing markets during difficult economic times, for example looking overseas for sales and orders whilst domestic markets slow.
Whilst exporting is a growing trend locally, we mustn’t be complacent. We need even more Northants companies to realise the potential rewards and take the leap and export for the first time, and to do this, they need the right support.
Northamptonshire Chamber’s International Trade Team, which works closely with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), helps many companies of all shapes and sizes every day, offering advice over the telephone, translations, a drop-in surgery and the processing of the vital documentation and certificates needed to export products abroad. It also facilitates a “buddy scheme” in which it “match-makes” companies entering or dealing with particular territories with an organisation who has already been through this experience, enabling them to share knowledge and best practice.
In the last year alone, Northamptonshire Chamber’s International Trade Team issued thousands of documents which enabled shipments with a combined value of £1/4 billion to leave the country. This is a huge and significant boost to our local economy.
However, understanding the various finance options, paperwork, and export and customs procedures can be daunting and often put people off exporting altogether. Attending a training course to get your head around these can be very cost effective and minimise the risk of any costly mistakes.
There is also help available to businesses when it comes to researching these new markets. UKTI regularly arranges trade mission visits or can carry out market research on a company’s behalf if required. Last month, the British Chambers of Commerce led a two-day trade mission to Moscow to give British companies the chance to explore export opportunities in Russia. A total of 11 companies took part in this valuable exercise, with one of these being a Northamptonshire Chamber member company.
Once you are exporting and making a success of it, you could publish case studies about completed projects or enter awards, such as the Exporter of the Year and Excellence in International Trade categories in the Chamber Awards, generating a huge amount of PR for your company.
This positive upturn in terms of exports is encouraging, not only for those already trading internationally, but those getting ready to export for the first time. Exporting can open a whole new world to almost any type of organisation – literally.