Chloe Shakesby

Government launches multi-million pound plan to help Northern SMEs trade overseas

The government has announced that it is launching a package of measures to help businesses in the North of England recover from the impact of coronavirus.

The new Export Growth Plan will see a £16.5m Northern Powerhouse Internationalisation Fund launch for SMEs in the area, which will help up to 3,300 small businesses grow their overseas trading in the next three years.

The package also includes 30 new International Trade Advisors (ITAs), who will provide direct support to small businesses in the region, supplementing the existing support provided to businesses across the UK.

It will pilot an Export Academy scheme which will build the capabilities of smaller businesses to trade internationally.

Graham Stuart, minister for exports, commented: “The government is negotiating trade deals around the world and we are determined to help UK businesses take advantage of the markets we are opening.

“So, as part of the recovery from coronavirus, I am delighted to announce this funding and support, which will be invaluable to businesses looking to begin or continue their exporting journeys.

“In 2019 we overtook France to become the world’s fifth largest exporter and this package is a statement of our confidence in UK companies to grow the UK as an exporting superpower.

“The package will ensure businesses are supported from the start, with more funding, more Trade Advisors and the establishment of the Export Academy to help businesses build back better.

“As we continue to negotiate improved trading terms with leading countries around the world, it is important to ensure every business can reap the benefits of our free trade agreements.”

Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We welcome these new funds and resources which come at a critical time for small firms who are looking to either expand or begin their trading journeys.

“It’s vital that these new International Trade Advisors are tasked with focusing small and micro businesses, not just medium-sized ones. “The smallest businesses often simply don’t have the same logistical financial means, and can be overlooked in favour of firms with louder voices and more resources. FSB will work with the government to help make this happen.

“By supporting small firms to trade, it means that many businesses will be able to look ahead with confidence to the new trading landscape that awaits us in the coming months.”

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