I hope you’ve returned from your Christmas and New Year break, as my old headmaster used to say, like giants refreshed. I always enjoy a long break myself and use it to recharge the batteries – more necessary this year than ever before as I look at what a hectic twelve months we have planned ahead.
We’re working hard to increase the number of firms exporting and I look forward to taking over 100 of them to Dublin in March for an export taster visit. We continue our quest to find 1,000 new exporters every year and this trip is of prime importance in showing firms what exporting is all about.
Despite issues in the EU, it still accounts for just under 50% of our exports and, given its proximity, will remain of critical importance for new exporters for some time to come. It is not, however, where our real future growth is going to come from.
I’m off to India in early February and will be attending a Confederation of Indian Business event, learning how we can do more in this large and rapidly growing market.
The North West continues to do well in emerging markets generally. I will be leading a group to Burma later in the year and hope to see us exploit the opportunities that are opening up there.
We also export more to China than any other part of the UK and the country will continue to be a strong partner in the coming year, but we will see our business in South East Asia continue its upward trend as well.
I am also expecting an increase in trade with Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt as well as Chile, Columbia and Panama. North West businesses will, as ever, be in the vanguard of exploiting the opportunities.
With our excellent air connections to the Gulf region from Manchester there will be more business in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but I predict that we will see an upsurge in trade with Iraq and Libya, with firms looking to take advantage of the high growth levels there of 14% and 17% respectively.
The opportunities are there for new and experienced exporters alike; we just need to grasp them. I hope that businesses will behave like the giants refreshed that they are by either exporting for the first time, or by leading the region into the hugely exciting and profitable high-growth emerging markets of the future.