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More help needed for UK exporters, MPs say

17 Jan 2014

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has released a report that predicts the UK will miss George Osborne’s target to double the value of its exports to £1 trillion by 2020.

A government spokesman said that ‘real progress’ had been made on export growth. However the report from the PAC claims that despite £420m being spent last year by both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade and Investment to promote exports, growth remained flat.

The PAC commented that the two departments needed work together more effectively and also highlighted ‘tensions’ with the visa procedures.

The report said, ‘The Home Office’s measures to secure the UK’s borders, for example, through setting visa entry requirements, can discourage business travellers from other countries from visiting the UK. This potentially affects export opportunities’.

Margaret Hodge, the PAC’s chairwoman, added that more could be done to ensure small and medium sized businesses overcome the obstacles they face when trying to find new markets for trading.

A spokesperson for the Government admitted that ministers had set ‘an ambitious target’ but they defended the Government’s position, arguing that it was ‘working hard to achieve’ it.

They also said the Government was looking to change its focus ‘towards targeting high-value opportunities, providing more support and advice for UK small and medium sized businesses’.