CBI calls for radical shake-up of support for UK exports

UK exports can only be boosted by creating an independent advisory body comprising people from industry, economics and politics who are not side-tracked by short-term issues and “political point scoring”, the CBI has said.

The lobby group is calling for a national exports commission modelled on similar groups working low pay and infrastructure, to set long-term policy and targets to increase sales of UK goods abroad, reports The Telegraph.

The CBI wants to see companies of all sizes involved but says having potential first-time exporters and medium-sized business (MSBs) on board is crucial because they are put off breaking into foreign markets by the current set-up.

It also wants to see the creation of a one-stop shop of export support and advice on a single and simple website. The lobby group said that at the moment almost a third of MSBs – who are seen as having the greatest potential to beginning selling abroad – abandon attempts to export because they cannot easily find the advice and support they need.

Simon Moore, 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.”

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which currently supports exports, also needs to become more commercially focused, Mr Moore added.

The CBI also wants new export finance products introduced to support smaller firms selling broad, and funding for government support at the ”sharp end” of exporting – such as embassies – protected. Devolution of export support to the regions should also be put on hold until a new central system is established, it added.