HC Deb 21 June 2000 vol 352 cc184-5W
Mr. Prior

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the recent performance of British Trade International; and what are its(a) performance criteria and (b) annual budget. [126751]

Mr. Caborn

British Trade International's services for trade development and promotion are now delivered under the single brand name of Trade Partners UK. As I announced last month, British Trade International is also the umbrella body for the Invest in Britain Bureau which will work alongside Trade Partners UK.

Trade Partners UK was launched nationally on 31 May 2000, and replaces the various promotional brands that have been used in the past. The services available to firms will be easier to access and more effective. A new electronic gateway provides internet access to all basic information on international markets and business sectors, and an electronic inquiry service. Trade Partners UK will continue to work in partnership with other Government Departments, devolved administrations and regional bodies.

Trade Partners UK's aim is to enhance the competitiveness of Britain's companies through overseas sales and investments. Trade development and promotion objectives have been published in both the Foreign Office's Departmental Report and the Department of Trade and Industry's Government Expenditure Plans.

In the period 1999–2000, these objectives were achieved with, for example, a customer satisfaction rate of 89 per cent. and more businesses (especially SMEs) being encouraged to take an active and professional approach to exporting as a result of assistance provided.

Detailed performance criteria for Trade Partners UK's future activities are in development. These will be in place by April 2001.

British Trade International's annual budget for its Trade Partners UK activities consists of three elements. In round figures these are: about £67 million for programme expenditure; about £90 million (net of certain overheads) currently devoted to running costs (staff) in overseas posts; about £30 million currently devoted to running costs in the UK (the headquarters in London and the English regional operations). About £28 million of the funding is provided by DTI, the balance by the FCO. These figures exclude funding for the Invest in Britain Bureau.

Mr. Prior

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what will be the cost of establishing Trade Partners UK. [126753]

Mr. Caborn

It cost £250,000 to develop the Trade Partners UK brand. Further costs of promoting and developing customer awareness of the new brand and the services we offer are being met by redirecting marketing effort that would in any case have been spent on promoting our services.

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