Call for change to export attitudes

British firms need to change their attitude to international trade and be better prepared if they’re to successfully do business in overseas markets, according to the Institute of Export.

“We don’t value exporting as a skill,” says the institute’s Director General Lesley Batchelor in an interview with Chamber International. “We think anyone can do it and so people just fall into it. I’ve met many people who’ve done that.

“With international markets you never know what’s going to happen. Businesses need to make sure they have the right product. They need to take time to find out what’s needed in a particular market rather than just dashing out there. And they need to learn how to operate in that market place. It’s about doing the right research and understanding the situation.

“The government keeps saying, ‘Export, export, export,’ and there has been a huge amount of activity. They say, ‘Have a stab at it,’ but I’d say, ‘This is an essential part of your company’s growth.’”

The institute highlights Africa – despite its ongoing problems - as a place with strong emerging markets. Nigeria is seeing world-beating 8.5 per cent annual growth while South Africa remains buoyant.