Lancashire businesses in all sectors have been challenged to step up and play their part in forging Britain’s global future.
Lynne Gillen, export manager for the county at the Department for International Trade (DiT), threw down the gauntlet at the Lancashire International Trade Conference 2021.
She told delegates: “I’d like to challenge everybody, if they are not exporting now, just to look at one new market and look at the potential of that market.
“If they are exporting already, I’d like them to look at another market they have not considered before.”
Lynne also urged businesses to get involved in shaping the country’s future export strategy. She said: “There has never been a better time to influence policy.”
Speaking at the online conference she stressed that businesses in Lancashire were not alone in their export journey, with a “vast amount of support” available to them.
Part of Lancashire Business View’s conference series, the event was presented in association with Boost, Lancashire’s business growth hub and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
It featured international, national and regional figures, including Richard Burn, trade commissioner to Europe and Marian Sudbury, UK regions director at the DiT.
The conference also heard from Northern Powerhouse trade envoys in Brazil and the USA; former Lancashire MEP and trade negotiator Sajjad Karim; and a host of county exporters, including Queens Award winners, and their advisers.
Speakers also highlighted the ongoing challenges facing exporters following the UK’s departure from the EU and work taking place to overcome them.
Miranda Barker, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said UK businesses now faced an “unfair playing field” with the EU that was set to become even more difficult for them and called for action at a national level to resolve the issues.
John Lucy, of the Road Haulage Association, also spoke of the challenges his sector had faced since the end of the transition period and the impact of increased bureaucracy.
However, he revealed the port of Heysham had been a winner in the process, with its Irish Sea traffic currently up by more than 27 per cent.
Marian Sudbury told the conference that since leaving the EU the UK had negotiated more than 60 different trade agreements and was working on a number of other deals.
Closer to home, she said that extra resources had been pumped into increasing support for businesses in the North of England looking to exploit overseas trade opportunities.
Paul Walters, international trade advisor at the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said that “fear of the unknown” was the major factor deterring more businesses from looking at international trade opportunities.
Watch the Lancashire International Trade Conference on demand here: https://youtu.be/Sk33arYJuSU
Full in-depth coverage of the conference will be available in the May/June edition of Lancashire Business View.