Encouraging more small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to export is a practical rather than an abstract challenge for this country. It is a necessary outcome if the UK is going to build a new economic settlement where old assumptions about Western dominance are challenged by the reality presented by emerging economic powers from China to Brazil, from India to West Africa.
Today there are 4.8m SMEs in the UK yet 80 per cent currently do not trade overseas. In some cases there are specific reasons why exporting fails to make sense but for most a series of inhibitors are preventing these firms from benefiting from the advantages of exporting they understand only too well.
This New Statesman supplement, in association with Barclays, explores these issues. At its heart is a round table discussion featuring the Business Secretary Vince Cable and a supporting cast of journalists, business leaders, economists and entrepreneurs. Elsewhere one of Cable’s predecessors
Michael Heseltine, an entrepreneur in his own right, offers his own prescription for growth (page 10). Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business secretary, reports back from a recent trip to West Africa and implores the UK to unlock the potential of diaspora communities back here (page 14).
The British “brand” is strong, he writes. Now is the time to put it to work
24 June 2013