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BATF used their invitation to an exclusive Ministerial round table discussion to highlight the reduction in UKTI TAP funding for members visiting overseas trade shows.

9 August 2016

The Rt Hon Greg Hands, Minister of State for the Department of International Trade explained that the new department’s emphasis would be on supporting SMEs during his first regional visit in his new role on 4th August.

The Minister was in Birmingham, hosting a discussion group of local businesses to explain the remit of the department, understand how UKTI in the West Midlands region works with partners and listen to the views of business people on how to increase both the number of exporting companies and the value of exports.

He explained the department has increased government support and will aim to support businesses in trading internationally through trade promotion, export support and direct investment. The strong regional presence, the website and a register of exporters will all be used as well as collaboration with the Department for International Development and encouraging more support from banks

The Minister answered comments on Brexit by emphasising that the UK economy is strong, employment has risen, GDP is better than the rest of the EU and inflation is down. He said that ‘International trade is not limited to outside the EU, 50% is within the EU at the moment, we need to protect that whilst further developing trade outside the EU.’

The audience reacted positively to the Minister’s message, welcoming increased support for SMEs. It was felt that although the effects of Brexit will not be seen until the medium to long term, SMEs are resilient and ‘fleet of foot’ when new opportunities present themselves, so there was a degree of cautious optimism.

During the question session, British Jewellery & Giftware International took the opportunity to raise the issue around reduction of TAP support for UK companies going out to overseas shows, we drew attention to the huge reductions in the programme and the detrimental effect this would have for UK business and the UK economy in the long term. We pointed out the feedback forms used to collect the projected sales figures after an event were simply not capturing true information due to the short time scales business had to complete them, 4 weeks, as in many cases true results were not known for at least a year sometimes longer.  The Sponsors’ Alliance (The Sponsors’ Alliance is an independent, national, multi-sectorial alliance of member-based, not-for-profit industry trade associations and chambers of commerce, who engage in export promotion activity. We organise and account for approximately two thirds of the TAP programme events and budgets) conducted a survey of TAP users within a 3 year period, showing the impact of TAP funding over a longer period and how vital it is for a business starting their export journey. A copy of this was presented to the Minister, this gave the opportunity for a one on one discussion, where we reiterated the importance of TAP to UK businesses and the negative perception that the smaller UK pavilions at leading international shows would continue to have, unless TAP is reinstated.   The full results of the survey can be found by clicking here

BATF was represented by Rosina Singleton - Chief Operating Officer and Rebecca Gough - International Services Manager 

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