HC Deb 21 June 1989 vol 155 cc182-3W
Mr. Arbuthnot

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if any changes are proposed in the terms under which the Department of Trade and Industry provides support for United Kingdom companies participating in overseas trade fairs.

Mr. Alan Clark

My right hon. and noble Friend and I are concerned that the Department's support for exporters at trade fairs abroad should be focused more sharply on its main purpose of assisting new exporters to become established in overseas markets. We have therefore decided to raise the overall level of assistance to such exporters but to limit the number of times that a company is supported at trade fairs within any country. The total value of assistance on offer will be unchanged.

The new arrangements for assistance to firms in groups supported by the Department at overseas trade fairs will be as follows:

  1. (i) Subject to the exceptions referred to in sub-paragraphs (iv) and (v) below, support will be limited to three participations per country. Firms which have already received assistance in three or more participations in a particular country will no longer be eligible for support in fairs in that country.
  2. (ii) The level of support for eligible companies will be 50 per cent. of the Department's estimate of the cost of providing stands and certain services at the trade fair in question. This compares with the present level of support which varies between 60 per cent. for the first time participants to 25 per cent. for third time participants.
  3. (iii) Support in the form of travel grants for events outside western Europe will continue for a maximum of three participations, instead of the present four.
  4. (iv) Because it is more difficult for firms to enter the Japanese market, the limit of the number of times on which support can be given there will be five. Assistance will be at the level of 50 per cent. of costs on each occasion. Similarly, the limit on the number of times that firms qualify for travel grant will also be five.
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  6. (v) A limited number of fairs are of major international significance and are the principal event for the product sector concerned. Because these fairs are aimed at buyers from all over the world rather than the market of the country in which they are held, firms will be eligible for support in two extra participations in successive events of this sort, in addition to the three participations per country described in sub-paragraph (i) above. The level of support will be the same as in sub-paragraph (ii).

The new arrangements will come into effect for group participations in overseas trade fairs which commence after 31 March 1990, except where the Department has already made a formal offer of support.