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Osborne urged to take export action

20/03/14

Britain's manufacturers are lagging behind other western countries in terms of financial assistance to help them operate competitively in the export market.

The Financial Times cited unnamed officials who reportedly claimed other regions provide "more aggressive" monetary assistance to help manufacturers, compared to that offered to UK businesses.

Chancellor George Osborne has come under pressure to increase the number and range of finance options available to British businesses that are looking to sell their products and services abroad.

The publication quoted chairman of the British Exporters Association Jon Coleman who suggested changes to the UK's export finance system could be made in this year's Budget announcement later this month.

"There's a clear opportunity in the Budget to further enhance and expand Government support for exports and meet the objectives in the National Export Challenge," he said.

Schemes to help British businesses in their ventures abroad have not yet come to fruition, such as the UK Export and Finance initiative, designed to support loans for longer-term contracts.

In February, a report by the Sheffield Political Research Institute highlighted the fact that despite the weakened pound, Britain's trade deficit has not changed, as had occurred during 1976 and 1992, when the sterling's value had depreciated.

So should businesses be concerned about what will happen as the economy recovers and the sterling strengthens? Far from it, suggests Carl Hasty, director of Smart Currency Business.

In an interview with Global Trader, Mr Hasty suggested that both imports and exports may benefit.

"A cheaper imports industry can encourage UK production – ultimately boosting export activity," he said.

The importance of exports to the country's businesses must certainly not be ignored as was highlighted by a recent study conducted by the National Business Awards entitled Business Without Barriers.

Of the 500 business leaders polled, the vast majority (80 per cent) believed exports were vital to the country.

There was a general sense of optimism among those questioned, with more than half stating they felt either 'confident' or 'very confident' about growth in the next 12 months.

Despite this, over 20 per cent said lack of investment is hampering their growth.

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