DTI moves to promote small-business exports

The Department of Trade and Industry is trialling a system to get information on export opportunities to small businesses. Labour had accused the Government of just targeting bigger firms.

The DTI is offering information on worldwide market opportunities, provided by its Export Intelligence Service at a reduced rate to small- and medium-sized enterprises through five Business Links and one Scottish Business Shop.

Prelink, the contractor which runs the service for the DTI, issues fortnightly bulletins by industry sector and region.

While big businesses must pay at least 250 for detailed information on a specific opportunity, an SME going to Business Links in Sheffield, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire South Derbyshire or Glasgow’s Business Shop can buy a report for 6.

Minister for trade Anthony Nelson was prompted to reassess SMEs’ access to the export market by shadow small business minister Barbara Roche and acknowledged that the Export Intelligence Service favoured large companies.

Roche says: “For many small firms, exporting for the first time is difficult and can be a barrier for growth. We need to make sure the DTI services are geared towards small businesses and not just big businesses.”

The DTI’s Export Market Information Centre is to begin market research on the success of the trials, which end in June.

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