The eyes of the world will be on the UK for the next few weeks and, while sport will be the main focus of attention, it presents a unique opportunity for our businesses.
Now is the time for West Midlands firms to start building relationships with new markets in order to find growth. We have seen that investment from around the globe is continuing to come into the region and during 2011 foreign investment created almost 3,000 new jobs, according to our UK Attractiveness Survey.
It’s positive that investors are continuing to take advantage of the skilled workforce we have here but West Midlands businesses must be doing much more to reach out to new markets. High performing companies across the region are growing their companies through exports but currently only one in four Midlands firms is exporting.
With the ongoing difficulties being experienced in the Eurozone it is crucial that local businesses look to build new relationships with markets further afield and there is no better time than the present. This is about more than just exporting to the BRIC economies, business owners must be building relationships and strategies to enter other rapid growth markets in the Far East, Africa and South America.
Even though growth has slowed slightly in these rapid growth markets, GDP is forecast to expand by 4.9 per cent this year, in stark contrast to the 0.6 per cent contraction, at best, that is expected in the Eurozone. Our latest Rapid Growth Markets Forecast reports that output in the rapid growth markets is expected to continue to pick up by six per cent in 2013 and 6.5 per cent in 2014.
These rapidly growing destinations are proving resilient and continue to offer opportunities to companies and investors across a wide range of sectors. Consumer demand is also increasing and will eventually replace the advanced economies as the key driver of global growth. The shift in import demand should also assist in rebalancing the economy and is something that businesses across our region should be taking advantage of.
At Ernst & Young our Growing Beyond initiative is aimed at supporting West Midlands businesses reach out to these new markets and find growth in these difficult economic conditions.
For more information visit ey.com/growingbeyond.
* Sara Fowler is Ernst & Young’s Midlands senior partner