The business model that relies solely on the domestic market is “bankrupt” and more needs to be done to promote exports, according to a Government minister who visited Birmingham this week.
Trade and Investment Minister Lord Stephen Green said a joined up approach is urgently needed if the region’s businesses are to increase exports and trigger growth in Britain’s fragile economy.
Speaking at an event held at the ICC as part of the Government’s National Challenge: Exporting for Growth initiative, Lord Green said for too many years UK business had concentrated on the domestic market and was now lagging behind other countries, particularly when it came to exploiting opportunities in emerging markets.
“If there’s one thing we have learned from the financial and economic crisis we are coming out of it is that the model of growth that characterised this country in the early noughties is now bankrupt,” he said.
“We can’t have domestic growth fuelled by demand through debt – we now have to find a new more sustainable growth model.
“It is about finding a government strategy that does a better job of trade in international markets rather than the domestic market which was the primary engine of growth in the noughties.
“The British have a long history of a relatively frugal trade position. The last time we were in surplus was 1984. Since the sixties our trade position has been deteriorating.
“I think we are going to have to do something about our trade position and pay our way in the 21st century and that’s how we are going to have growth.”
While the Government could play its part Lord Green said that in itself would not be enough and it was up to the networks that support businesses to also take a key a role.
“Supporters of SMEs up and down the country need to support and encourage businesses into the export markets,” he said. “Chambers of commerce, banks, lawyers, anyone who has got influence – all have a part to play in a national challenge we need to rise to. I need people who can demonstrate we are up to this challenge and can meet it.”
With 41 per cent of exports currently going to eurozone countries the Minister also said it was time to look to new markets.
“Not only are we going to have to look overseas but further afield where we see the fast growing markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa,” he said. “The forecast for the next 20 years is it is going to continue.”