UKTI: We have to capitalise on the Olympic momentum to boost exports

Parveen Thornhill, regional director, UK Trade & Investment London talks using London 2012 to get London firms exporting

We’ve asked more than 30 of London’s business leaders how they think Britain can create economic growth, opportunity and innovation. Read the full publication online: Securing Britain’s Future.

By 2020 we want 100,000 more UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) exporting and to increase exports to £1 trillion. It’s the only way we can secure a buoyant future for our SMEs, the main employers in the private sector and the source of the UK’s innovation and creativity.

Research shows that firms that export reap a host of benefits, including enhanced levels of innovation, greater resilience and increased competitiveness and productivity. A Barclays report from 2012 found businesses generate an average growth of 30% after exporting for just two years.

We can connect London companies to our contacts in 200 locations in more than 100 countries

However, the latest trade statistics from HM Revenue & Customs show exports from London have taken a hit for 2012, with figures down by almost £1.19bn. This is a similar picture to much of the UK and can largely be attributed to falls in exports to the EU caused by the flat Eurozone economy.

These export figures do however show a shift towards high-growth markets, and that an increasing number of London firms are exporting to those markets. Sales to Asia and Oceania increased by 2.6% to a record-breaking £6.91bn, exports to Latin America and the Caribbean increased by 25% to over £257m. And there was a huge boost of 6.4% to sales to the Middle-East and North Africa, which reached more than £2.5bn.


  • Businesses generate an average growth of 30% after exporting for just two years
  • UKTI has implemented a range of initiatives to help British exporters

To further help London businesses access these markets, we held ‘Export Week’ in May. Activity focused on high growth markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, Colombia, Indonesia and Qatar. Events across London covered topics such as export finance, international sales and marketing.

Alongside this, our trade advisers in London help UK businesses understand how to approach different markets, what research and preparation they will need to do, and help them find the right contacts. Their job is to open doors. We can connect London companies to our contacts in 200 locations in more than 100 countries.

We also offer targeted market visits across the globe which give firms the chance to go to the market and meet potential customers and partners. We also host weekly events in the capital for London firms, featuring international buyers and export experts from markets across the world.

Opportunities abound for London firms in all sectors. The Olympic legacy will continue to have a positive impact, with numerous international high-value procurement opportunities. Brazil and Russia are planning their major events. Our ‘Host to Host’ programme is working with other nations looking to deliver all sorts of sporting events, to ensure our success in delivering the Games here is turned into real opportunities for British companies.

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