UK companies that trade overseas can see their productivity rise by up to 34%, a major export event hosted at Mersey Maritime’s headquarters was told.
The Maritime Knowledge Hub in Birkenhead was the venue for the latest instalment of the Institute of Export and International Trade’s World Trade Summit programme, which saw speakers share their knowledge and experiences of international trade.
Deputy Mayor of Liverpool Gary Millar revealed the Government data that linked productivity to exporting in a speech described as “inspiring” by the institute. Cllr Millar drew on his long career selling businesses overseas, and also promoting Liverpool and the UK to the world.
Among the many intriguing stories he related from his exporting past, was how an introduction of colour to typically mundane products such stair edgings and door handles earned him significant contracts with corporate giants, including fast food chain McDonalds.
His point about more companies needing to look at the opportunities that export brings was echoed by Luke Fitzsimmons of Bibby Financial Services and Chris Manka from the Federation of Small Businesses, both of whom advocated the strength of ‘Brand Britain’ as a key asset for UK businesses when selling overseas.
Power of clusters
Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke also addressed the delegates on the power of maritime clusters. Liverpool city region has now established itself as the most successful maritime cluster in the UK, with an annual GVA contribution of almost £4bn.
He outlined how the cluster model was a powerful tool in facilitating and increasing international trade and spoke of the local support provided by Mersey Maritime through the clustering of academic institutes and local government to provide support that isn’t driven by private interests, but by the need to grow local economies and jobs.
The discussion was chaired by Lesley Batchelor, director general of the Institute of Export and International Trade, who emphasised that exporting takes time and it needs to be done properly if companies don’t want to make costly mistakes.
She repeated the presentation she has made throughout this year’s programme calling for businesses to learn the skills of export – especially with Brexit coming up so fast.