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1m Campaign To Win New Export Markets

A major campaign costing almost 1-million is being launched by The Chamber and Warwick University to win new export markets in South Africa, the US, and the Baltic Rim states.

The project aims to give tailored advice to 300 firms in Coventry and Warwickshire about the opportunities, and achieve 60 of them opening up export sales in those countries.

Backing of nearly 500,000 has been won from Europe by The Chamber and firms are expected to contribute 200,000 as part-payment for the support they get.

"Our Business Link export team has identified hugely undeveloped opportunities in these three areas," said Mark Easton, manager of the project at the Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise.

"We will be concentrating on helping small and medium-sized companies-those with fewer than 250 employees-to break into exporting and calculate that the orders to be won would preserve 360 jobs.

"As well as offering advice and support, we will be negotiating trading protocols in South Africa and the Baltic states and setting up networks with Chambers of Commerce in those countries and through the Association of American Chambers."

Three specialist desks will be set up at The Chamber-replicating the enormous success of The Chamber's 'China Desk', which, after five years work, is helping local companies to win business totalling 2-million a year.

"The support will include market research, preparing marketing materials and translations, and participating in trade exhibitions and overseas trade missions," said Ajay Desai, Euro funds co-ordinator at The Chamber.

"But we will also deliver any training such as marketing skills that a study of firms taking part, combined with an analysis of their exporting potential, shows is necessary for them to attack new markets in a thoroughly professional and effective manner."

The Warwick Manufacturing Group at the university will provide higher level services for companies which are identified as likely to benefit from improving their manufacturing technology and developing their products.

Help will also be given with managing changes to their operations which a study of the export potential reveals.

The Chamber will also produce a CD which pulls together information to help exporters from a wide range of existing data bases.

The project will also link in to existing Business Link support programmes, such as 'REGAIN', which helps companies to win business from other firms in their area, and the 'Accelerate' programme which is helping companies in the automotive supply chain.

Mr. Desai said:

"Companies can no longer afford to rely on traditional domestic markets but need to learn to compete globally with international competitors.

"A study of UK companies found that only two per cent were of world class manufacturing status-yet 50 per cent had the potential to become world class.

"The alternative is to give up and enter a vicious circle of slower market growth combining with increased competition, which puts a stranglehold on innovation.

"At best a company stagnates; at worst it dies.

"Yet, at the moment, firms in the West Midlands allocate less of their turnover than the national average to new products and processes, and spend less on research and development."

He added:

"The project is being aimed at small and medium enterprises because they account for 99 per cent of all businesses, and almost 70 per cent of employment.

"But the emphasis will be on quality of company-with fewer receiving considerable support, rather than many receiving more superficial support.

"So there will be, first, a screening process to ensure that we identify those who are likely to succeed in export markets."

MORE INFORMATION:  Barry Lloyd-Jones   01203 654260

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CWN / Business / The Chamber / 23 Mar 1999

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