Economic boost from export growth

A major export-led campaign has been launched to give a £2.6 billion boost to the West Yorkshire economy by helping firms sell more of their goods and services abroad.

The “We Are International” campaign launched at the ExploreExport 2012 is a joint venture between the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and UK Trade & Investment, the government-backed organisation which assists businesses with international trade.

Companies will get the opportunity to learn from other businesses already trading overseas via a network of “export champions”.

“As the largest manufacturing base in the country, and the UK’s largest regional financial centre, Leeds City Region should be in prime position to take advantage of the immense business opportunities in emerging markets,” said LEP chairman Neil McLean.

“Our research shows that companies which trade internationally are more innovative, more productive and more resilient than those that don’t. Many of our businesses are already realising the benefits of international trade – the objective of this campaign is to give new exporters the chance to learn from those who have been there and done it already."

Increasing exports in the region is at the heart of a “city deal” agreed with the government earlier this year.

“Companies serious about their long-term growth prospects need to be thinking internationally,” said Eric Hawthorn, the managing director of exporting firm Radio Design and who is a member of the City Region’s business, innovation and growth panel.

“International trade is certainly key to the continued growth of my business. When we started out in 2007, we were able to get off the ground here in the UK but for long-term expansion we have to look overseas and exports now account for 27 per cent of our sales.”

Nick Baird, the chief executive of UKTI, added: “I’m delighted to endorse the ‘We Are International’ campaign. This is an innovative example of how UKTI and LEPs can work together to further our shared ambitions of helping more businesses realise the tremendous benefits of international trade.”