Andrew Dunlop: World of potential for Scottish firms overseas

Exporting products can help businesses expand. File picture: AP Photo/Luis Romero
Exporting products can help businesses expand. File picture: AP Photo/Luis Romero
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FIGURES released today show a 17 per cent increase in the number of exporting businesses in Scotland over the last three years. This is undeniably good news.

In shorthand, exporting means jobs and growth.

Firms that export expand faster, take on more people and usually pay better. On average, in the first two years of exporting, new exporters grow by a third, equivalent to adding £400,000 in sales.

This government is all about getting people into work. That’s why we have teamed up with the Scottish Government to bring the Exporting is GREAT roadshow to Scotland. We’re offering the best of both worlds for Scottish businesses – advice on your doorstep from Scottish Development International and access to UK Trade & Investment’s punch and reach in over 100 countries.

As the Export Hub goes from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh, it aims to encourage Scottish companies to take the plunge.

When you look at what Scotland has to offer, it is frankly astonishing that businesspeople would worry whether there is any demand. Seen from overseas, the British and Scottish brands wield real clout, with people associating them with quality, heritage and creativity – values that we underline with the international GREAT marketing campaign.

Edinburgh is known for its financial sector. Right now, on the Exporting is GREAT website, there are over 200 live opportunities to provide financial and professional services as far afield as Montenegro, Thailand and Bulgaria.

At the Export Hub, firms can get face-to-face advice about exporting, and the website can be accessed from anywhere. But once you have made the decision to export, you need the right finance and insurance in place.

This is where UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK government’s export credit agency, can help.

Their aim is to make sure that no viable export should fail for want of finance or insurance. This is why they help companies of all sizes to access what they need, whether that’s directly from banks and credit insurance brokers, or with a little help from the UK government.

UKEF enables your firm to give your overseas buyers time to pay, while protecting your cash flow and providing higher levels of finance compared to conventional lending. Since 2010, UKEF has provided over £17 billion worth of support for UK exports.

Scottish companies are waking up to the potential that overseas markets offer. The UK and Scottish governments, working together, will support our firms as they seek out new customers overseas. The demand is out there. You could be too.

• Andrew Dunlop is Scotland Office Minister