December 7, 2018
At a time when the future of the trading relationship with our largest and closest export market is uncertain and when our single biggest export destination is locked in a trade war with China, there may be a temptation for suppliers of goods and services to focus on UK domestic markets. However, few businesses will find the growth they want from an entirely British customer base and such a conservative approach will disregard the many and plentiful opportunities that export sales can deliver.
Over recent years, law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has been on its own export journey. WBD keeps close to its customers, including its client base in the North East of England, home to nearly 500 employees and the biggest office in the firm’s transatlantic portfolio in Newcastle. But having established a physical presence or a network of relationships in most major jurisdictions, WBD can connect businesses from our region not only with foreign legal advice but also with overseas buyers, markets and opportunities and with practical advice and assistance on exporting.
Businesses that are new to export understandably have a degree of nervousness about the fresh challenges and different potential risks associated with breaking into new markets.
Unfamiliar tax and regulatory regimes and concerns over not getting paid, heightened fears of being sued for one thing or another, especially in the US, or the basic practicalities of the distance and time it takes to reach a customer are just a few of the factors that can often deter businesses from making the leap. It is good to be cautious but businesses should not allow the perceived perils of international expansion to stand in the way.
Many companies across our region consider exporting to be business as usual and wonder what all the fuss is about. But that view is not as widely held as it needs to be to help the North East consolidate its position as a region with one of the highest proportions of exports and a rare positive balance of trade.
Notwithstanding the maelstrom of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the business environment for expansion overseas is as favourable as it has been for many years.
While national trade deals may not be as easy to strike as some of our politicians might have us believe, businesses should not put export plans on hold until that happens. Uncertainty creates opportunity. Foreign exchange rates are favourable and government support under the new export strategy is getting better.
Working in conjunction with the North East LEP and suppliers of the different kinds of support and assistance our local businesses need to export successfully, WBD is seeking to make the process of tapping into the resource they need as efficient as it possibly can be in terms of both management time and cost. The firm advises multinational companies in relation to international trade on a daily basis. The export team can use the connections and the insight and experience they have built up over many years with large corporates to ensure SMEs in our region can get on with growing their business and make a strong contribution to the local and national economy.