Express & Star

West Midlands SMEs need to get exporting

The International Trade Minister says that small businesses in the West Midlands can play a vital role in sparking the new Midlands Engine by getting involved in exporting.

International Trade Minister and Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier is encouraging more small businesses in the West Midlands to get involved in exporting

Mark Garnier, who is also Wyre Forest MP and once ran a small business himself, said he understood the real barriers SMEs faced in starting exporting.

Speaking at a small business event in Birmingham he stressed: "There is a great deal of unfulfilled potential in small businesses in the West Midlands.

"There are a huge number of businesses here that have exportable products. What we need to do is to really excite them about the opportunities that are out there

"We need to break down the myths people have created about why they shouldn't export."

He said he wanted to create a national movement in which Government and industry worked in tandem to help UK companies at every stage of the export journey.

Mr Garnier also said Brexit was an opportunity and said that for small firms trading in the European Union for the moment absolutely nothing had changed and would not until March 29, 2019, when the UK leaves the EU.

He said small businesses needed to be alive to the global opportunities beyond Europe.

"There is no better time to go global. Global opportunities are out there – you should be too," he enthused at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses event at the ThinkTank in Birmingham.

Mr Garnier said the Departmnent for International Trade wanted to encourage small businesses to export.

"For a small business it has never been easier or a more important time to export," he added.

New research conducted by Goldman Sachs and the Department for International Trade shows small businesses are increasingly confident about exporting

Of small businesses that are part of the Goldman Sachs 10KSB (10,000 Small Businesses) programme 97 per cent forecast positive growth in the next 12 months

Half of those surveyed are currently exporting and the majority plan to increase exports in the next 12 months

Mr Garnier added: "This new research is a fantastic boost for the UK’s small businesses whether they are already exporting or thinking about exporting

“As an international economic department, the Department for International Trade wants to take advantage of this appetite and is committed to helping businesses across the country seize the global demand for British exports and take advantage of growing markets around the world.”

“Through websites like, more and more businesses are connected with opportunities across the world and exporting is now a reality for many more businesses.”

Since launch in 2010, 1,300 small businesses have been through the 10KSB programme, and received a broad range of training, resources and opportunities to expand their networks

Chancellor of the University of Birmingham Lord Karan Bilimoria urged the region's businesses to go out and export, but warned "Exporting is not easy – it is much more comfortable to sell on your doostep to the domestic market."

The new West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street said a large proporton of SMEs were not exporting and were failing to sow the seeds of future success.

He stressed that the region was ready to move forward with the help of HS2, the bid to bring Channel 4 to Birmingham and the boost bringing the Commonwealth Games to the city could bring.

"It is our time as a region. We have real momentum which the area has lacked for 50 years. Growth here is now two-and-a-half times the national average and we are top in the Uk for new jobs created last year and inward investment and exports," he told delegates.

Mr Street said the area where the West Midlands was lagging was on wages which were the lowest in the country.

"We can establish this as a leading region and give pride back to our citizens," he said.

Mr Garnier also stressed the importance of winning more foreign direct investment in the region.

He said that it was early days for the Midlands Engine that had been set up in March and it was vital to get overseas businesses to help continue the growth and invest in the region.

"At the other end of the scale we are looking to help SMEs take opportunities," he added.

Mr Garnier also said that the arrival of HS2 would help the whole region.

"In the Black Country and Shropshire people are running the risk of saying if we have not got an HS2 station it can't benefit me.

"The reality is it will connect cities together and build capacity in the wider rail network.

"By having a high speed link between London and Birmingham it allows prosperity to spread up the track and will indirectly benefit the whole region," he explained.

"It will lift the whole economy of the region and that will spread wealth to every area including the Black Country and Shropshire."