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Look to emerging markets for growth

The latest export statistics from HMRC show that it's time for companies to take emerging markets seriously. They showed that exports to India, China and Russia all increased significantly to £1.3 billion each. And these could be set to increase after the summer if a recent survey by Deloitte is anything to go on - it found that the Games 2012 are providing a significant boost to 'Brand Britain' particularly among the growing numbers of middle class consumers in China and India. More than two thirds of respondents in the survey associated the Olympics with the UK.

Croydon-based baby life support equipment manufacturer SLE, exports over 90 per cent of its newborn baby products to more than 70 countries, including India. The firm flies the flag for UK manufacturing, being awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2009 and the gong for Best Business for International Trade at the Croydon Business Awards in 2011 and 2012.

Despite strong domestic sales and a market share of over 50 per cent, as a niche manufacturer, the firm appreciated the potential of developing markets, realising that to achieve incremental growth it needed to sell into emerging markets, which now contribute to its current turnover of £12 million.

And Derby firm SCITEK, just completed the final stages of a year-long project to create a one-off £1.2 million neutron radiography machine for the China Research Institute, leading to more jobs and larger premises for the firm. SCITEK created the half tonne, 11 metre long system, which creates 3D images of the interiors of objects to identify items including corrosion in aircraft components, in June 2011, with help from UKTI.

Since then the company has increased staff from 17 to 20 and is now looking at marketing similar systems to South Korea and Japan. It is moving from a 5,500 sq ft premise to a 22,000 sq ft purpose-built premises to allow the firm to house its manufacturing facilities and provide new laboratories, test areas and office facilities that will allow accommodation of existing and future staff. SCITEK expects to increase its workforce by 50 per cent in the next five years as it works on developing business with Chinese high technology companies and new markets in Europe and the USA.

Although we want firms to look to emerging markets we are keen to emphasise that despite the recent gloom around Europe there are still opportunities. The EU is still the largest market for England, with exports to Germany up by £3.5 billion and France up by £1.9 billion. But as would be expected exports to Greece and Spain have declined for most regions. At UK Trade & Investment we are doing all we can to help small and medium sized firms grow by selling overseas. Our targets from the government are to double the value of exports by 2020 - an entirely realistic aspiration. We can help create an export-led recovery for the economy and help firms not only sustain their business but boost their profits and grow.
The latest statistics show that the number of exporters increased by 0.6 per cent - which is great news. This is helping us to reach our target of attracting an additional 100,000 SMEs into international trade.   

However too many of our smaller firms are missing out on the opportunities overseas. We have the expert staff and relevant support packages and can work with our private sector partners to help businesses take the first step. There are hundreds of events taking place up and down the country on an almost weekly basis.  From 'Meet the Buyers' to specialist workshops on intellectual property, to British Business Embassy events throughout the Olympics featuring top business people. All any business person has to do is pick up the phone and we'll help them.
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