The FCO urges more businesses in Bristol and the south-west to consider exporting to help their business grow.
FCO Permanent Under Secretary, Simon Fraser, visited Bristol today to meet with Mayor George Ferguson and local business leaders.
I am very happy to be visiting Bristol. My message to local businesses is: if you want to export, we want to help you do it. The success of British firms overseas is vital to our economic recovery. We work closely with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and our embassies abroad are here to help.
Bristol and the south-west have great potential for exports, as well as for attracting international investment here and we want to help boost this.
Our FCO network of more than 260 missions overseas can support businesses, using the skills and knowledge of our diplomats: local expertise, language and cultural understanding.
UKTI staff specialise in helping companies break into overseas markets across the world. The South West UKTI team helped more than 1,300 businesses in the region last year and we are eager to do much more.
The Chancellor announced this week that UKTIs annual budget has been increased by 70m a year.
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson said:
I want to take every opportunity to raise Bristols profile across the world as a thriving international city that is recognised for its great cultural, business and environmental strengths.
As the Head of the Diplomatic Service Simon Fraser is a key ally and his visit to Bristol is very important for the city.
I hope that Simon and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will help us promote Bristol around the world, highlighting business opportunities and stimulating investment in the city.
In particular I hope that we can work in partnership with the FCO to promote Bristol as the next European Green Capital.
The FCO and UKTI have provided help for businesses across many different sectors and sizes. This includes examples like our embassy in Manila helping Airbus to secure a multi-billion pound deal with Philippine Airlines, all the way through to supporting a Bristol-based small businessman to export heated gloves, or helping local cheese producers in the south-west to export to Korea.
2.9% of South West businesses (ca 5,700) exported goods in 2010, compared to an average of 3.3% in England.*
UKTI officers in Guangzhou, China, and their local Bristol counterparts are helping build links between the Bristol China Partnership and investors from Guangzhou, including helping set up a trade mission to China last month.
The FCO is also shifting its resources to the fastest growing regions of the world, opening up to 11 new Embassies and eight new British Consulates/British Trade Offices, as well as redeploying around 300 extra staff in more than 20 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Mr Fraser met with representatives of Bristols international partnerships and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. Mr Fraser also met with representatives of aerospace and low-carbon companies and visited the National Composites Centre. He is also speaking to students at Bristol University and representatives of the Somali community.