Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on the Budget date, Cameron in Vanity Fair, and a Lib Dem coali

1. Why did Brown leave the Budget so late?

The Orange Party says the reason it took Gordon Brown so long to announce the date of the Budget is that it also gives away the date of the election.

2. Hague attempts to woo Europe as Americans voice concerns

William Hague is insisting that a Tory government wouldn't "pick a fight" with Europe to offset US concern about the party's foreign policy, reports Left Foot Forward's Shamik Das.

3. PMQs -- The Speaker has the best line

John Bercow's put-down to an unruly Tory backbencher -- "Your heckling is as boring as it is boorish" -- was a classic, says the FT's Westminster blog.

4. David Cameron rejects "left or right" political labels

Andrew Sparrow picks out the highlights of Vanity Fair's profile of David Cameron, in which Ed Vaizey says the Tory leader is "much more conservative by nature than he acts".

5. Five reasons Nick Clegg should rule out a coalition now

The Lib Dem position in the event of a hung parliament has been the subject of much speculation. Stephen Tall at Liberal Democrat Voice puts forward the arguments in favour of an unambiguous statement that the party would not enter a coalition with either Labour or the Tories.

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A global marketplace: the internet represents exporting’s biggest opportunity

The advent of the internet age has made the whole world a single marketplace. Selling goods online through digital means offers British businesses huge opportunities for international growth. The UK was one of the earliest adopters of online retail platforms, and UK online sales revenues are growing at around 20 per cent each year, not just driving wider economic growth, but promoting the British brand to an enthusiastic audience.

Global e-commerce turnover grew at a similar rate in 2014-15 to over $2.2trln. The Asia-Pacific region, for example, is embracing e-marketplaces with 28 per cent growth in 2015 to over $1trln of sales. This demonstrates the massive opportunities for UK exporters to sell their goods more easily to the world’s largest consumer markets. My department, the Department for International Trade, is committed to being a leader in promoting these opportunities. We are supporting UK businesses in identifying these markets, and are providing access to services and support to exploit this dramatic growth in digital commerce.

With the UK leading innovation, it is one of the responsibilities of government to demonstrate just what can be done. My department is investing more in digital services to reach and support many more businesses, and last November we launched our new digital trade hub: www.great.gov.uk. Working with partners such as Lloyds Banking Group, the new site will make it easier for UK businesses to access overseas business opportunities and to take those first steps to exporting.

The ‘Selling Online Overseas Tool’ within the hub was launched in collaboration with 37 e-marketplaces including Amazon and Rakuten, who collectively represent over 2bn online consumers across the globe. The first government service of its kind, the tool allows UK exporters to apply to some of the world’s leading overseas e-marketplaces in order to sell their products to customers they otherwise would not have reached. Companies can also access thousands of pounds’ worth of discounts, including waived commission and special marketing packages, created exclusively for Department for International Trade clients and the e-exporting programme team plans to deliver additional online promotions with some of the world’s leading e-marketplaces across priority markets.

We are also working with over 50 private sector partners to promote our Exporting is GREAT campaign, and to support the development and launch of our digital trade platform. The government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign is targeting potential partners across the world as our export trade hub launches in key international markets to open direct export opportunities for UK businesses. Overseas buyers will now be able to access our new ‘Find a Supplier’ service on the website which will match them with exporters across the UK who have created profiles and will be able to meet their needs.

With Lloyds in particular we are pleased that our partnership last year helped over 6,000 UK businesses to start trading overseas, and are proud of our association with the International Trade Portal. Digital marketplaces have revolutionised retail in the UK, and are now connecting consumers across the world. UK businesses need to seize this opportunity to offer their products to potentially billions of buyers and we, along with partners like Lloyds, will do all we can to help them do just that.

Taken from the New Statesman roundtable supplement Going Digital, Going Global: How digital skills can help any business trade internationally

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