Peter Aldous raises concerns of cost of UKTI’s overseas market introduction service to SMEs

Peter Aldous welcomes UK Trade & Investment focus on helping small and medium-sized enterprises that wish to export, but raises concerns about the cost of using the overseas market introduction service.

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): Last week, UK Trade & Investment put on an extremely useful event for businesses in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey). Subsequently, my constituent, Simon Chater, has expressed concern about the cost to small and medium-sized enterprises of using the overseas market introduction service. Will the Minister confirm that UKTI is doing all it can to support SMEs that are seeking to export, including working with other Departments to identify new markets?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Norman Lamb): I was delighted to hear about the event in my hon. Friend’s constituency. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Margot James), who has made arrangements with 70 MPs to hold similar events around the country. We have to do a lot to encourage SMEs to export. The level of exports from our SMEs is below the European average, so we need to tackle that. Many UKTI services, including its initial consultations, are free. It has a particular focus on helping SMEs to increase their exports.

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