HC Deb 17 June 1999 vol 333 cc206-7W
30. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to increase the(a) export success and (b) manufacturing competitiveness of the English regions. [86528]

Mr. Wills

The Competitiveness White Paper published last December set out 77 commitments for Government action aimed at increasing the export success and competitiveness of all businesses, including manufacturing, throughout the UK. We recognise that each region has different needs. The Regional Development Agencies have therefore been asked to identify measures in their forthcoming economic strategies which are aimed at improving business competitiveness. I have made funds available to Regional Development Agencies to address the priorities they identify. Pending the establishment of the London Development Agency next year, my Department is supporting similar work being undertaken by the London Development Partnership.

British Trade International, the new unified DTI/FCO operation for trade promotion, will place greater emphasis on effective delivery of export services in the English regions. The regional and local network, currently in Government Offices and Business Links, will be integral to the new service and under the effective control of the Chief Executive, Sir David Wright. British Trade International will work closely with the Small Business Service and Regional Development Agencies as the new trade promotion organisation takes shape.

I have also given my backing to the CBI's "Fit for the Future" campaign which aims to help to improve business competitiveness by the adoption of "best practice" techniques.