Clive Drinkwater
Miranda Dobson

Member Article

That was the month with Clive Drinkwater

Clive Drinkwater is the regional director for UK Trade & Investment in the North West. Speaking to Bdaily, he summed up his highlights for North West business throughout May.

What do you feel has been the most significant event in the region this month?

The most significant event for UKTI in May was our High Growth Markets Week. The launch event at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool was attended by the government’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Green. During the week I attended fifteen events all around the region and spoke to over 1,000 people.

My main message is that we need to do much more business with the fast growing countries of the world if we want to grow our own economy. We are the 10th biggest exporting nation on earth but we are only ranked as 28th in the league table of exporting nations to China! 50% of our exports today are with the EU, an area of virtually no growth.

In ten years’ time, we need to see that reduced to somewhere near 30% - not because we want to drop our exports to the EU but because we desperately need to increase the proportion we export to High Growth Markets.

Have there been any surprises?

I did a lot of research before launching High Growth Markets Week. I used the week as an opportunity to launch my own acronym for growth markets – MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey). They are, in my opinion, the next four major growth markets to watch after the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

The surprising thing to me was that if you add the BRICs to MISTs, those eight countries alone account for 50% of the world’s population and 34% of the world’s GDP – and they are all growing very fast! Yet we only export 17% of our goods and services there. Contrast this with the EU which accounts for 7% of world population and only 19% of world GDP, yet we export 50% of our goods and services there. Something needs to change.

What was your highlight of the month?

It was a month of highlights but if I have to choose one it would be visiting ChargePoint Technology in Speke with Lord Green as part of the launch of High Growth Markets Week in the North West.

The firm exports up to 90 per cent of the products it manufactures and has already been appointed as one of UKTI’s Export Champions, helping other local businesses to become successful exporters. ChargePoint designs and manufactures a niche product for the pharmaceutical industry which allows drugs to be produced safely.

What’s great about the company is that it has been really busy pioneering into new markets all around the world. Many are fast developing, high growth markets such as India, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore. It would be great to see other North West firms follow in the footsteps of ChargePoint.

What do you hope next month will bring?

June sees the publication of the quarterly export statistics for the North West and I hope we see further signs of the region’s economy recovering from the recent tough times. We exported more than £25 billion worth of goods from the North West in 2012, and saw increases in exports to China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and North Africa. In fact exports to China rose by an impressive nine per cent to £1.6 billion, making it the North West’s third biggest market.

It’s the high-growth markets like China that we need to be concentrating on. It’s very encouraging but we need to do more – and it’s not just China where we need to do better. In India, we’re 22nd in the league table of exporting nations, in Brazil we’re 14th, in Mexico we’re 17th, in South Korea we’re 27th, and in Indonesia we’re 24th. In China we are behind such countries as Oman, Angola, Italy, France and Switzerland. Why is this?

Which other businesses have piqued your interest in the region?

One of the great things for me about High Growth Markets Week was being able to visit successful exporters across the North West. Scorpion Automotive in Chorley, which manufactures vehicle security systems, is having great success in India after taking part in a UKTI-organised trip to the Auto ExpoTrade Show in Delhi two years ago.

Since then, the firm has received substantial new orders, including one for 5,000 immobilisers. HiDef Aerial Surveying in Cleator Moor near Whitehaven is another of the region’s success stories. HiDef is the only company in the world that manufactures digital video equipment for use on board aircraft to carry out aerial environmental and energy surveys.

The firm exports all over the world from Germany to America, and Ireland to Japan. Scorpion Automotive and HiDef are among many firms in the North West that are already proving how important exports are to boosting the region’s economy and paving the way in the High Growth Markets of the world. My challenge to businesses up and down the region is: Are you ready to join them?

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Miranda Dobson .

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