HC Deb 01 February 1994 vol 236 cc614-5W
Mr. Callaghan

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to increase support for British exporters; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Needham

The Government are more than ever committed to helping United Kingdom companies win in overseas markets. To achieve this, we are developing a long-term export strategy, involving a partnership between Government and industry.

A particularly good example of the partnership being developed is the export promoter scheme. My Department is recruiting people with private sector experience, on secondment, to act as export promoters. Some 65 are already on board and actively helping business. These secondees bring to government a business oriented way of tackling problems and promoting export opportunities.

To guide the overall strategy for export promotion, market plans are being drawn up for each of the United Kingdom's top 80 overseas markets. This will help ensure that resources are focused to best effect. We are building on the strengths of the United Kingdom capital goods industry; and targeting the overseas markets which offer the best prospects for those strengths.

Over the past two years the Export Credits Guarantee Department—ECGD—premium rates have been cut by more than a quarter. And in the last Budget the Government announced a further round of reductions—some as high as 20 per cent.—for business with important emerging markets such as Argentina, India, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey. By 1996–97, ECGD cover for key markets, where the risks are subject to special controls, will be virtually double the level available in 1991–92.

Over the next three years, the cover available for important markets like China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Africa will exceed £9 billion. This is in addition to an allocation of US$1 billion already set aside for business with the former Soviet Union.

These initiatives will build substantially on the current matrix of support available to help our exporters. This will ensure that ever greater numbers of United Kingdom exporters get the first-class support they deserve to help them win in world markets.