International Services from the BFPA
Many of the International services offered by the BFPA are facilitated through third parties and government agencies such as UKTI and the China British Business Council. We also work with other trade associations in lobbying government as part of the Engineering & Machinery Alliance (www.eama.info) to ensure that regulatory barriers to both Export and Import are removed whilst seeking to improve the availability of funding support and grant schemes for member companies to further their interests both at home and overseas.
In May 2011, the UK Government instigated a new initiative to promote and support UK exports across all sectors of industry. It was manifest in a five year strategy called ‘Britain Open for Business.’ Like so many government initiatives they set astonishingly aggressive targets for UK SME’s but without doubt it is clear that UK business success in international markets is central to rebuilding the UK economy at home. In general the UK continues to perform well in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). While global levels of FDI fell in 2013, the UK bucked that trend and the government is increasingly focusing their efforts on attracting those investment opportunities with significant potential for future export, to deliver wider benefits to the UK.
However, we have some way to go to achieve the Government’s export target of £1 trillion by 2020 but in fairness to UK Government, there are reasons for optimism. Recent success in key markets such as China and sectors such as aerospace and automotive, is encouraging and, as income rises in high growth markets, this trend favours the sectors in which the UK is strongest. The role that the larger BFPA members can play both in meeting the Government targets and in taking advantage of the many Public sector grants that have been made available (see PESTLE analysis below), depends, to a great extent, on the corporate policy of their foreign ownership (as described above under Member Ownership). However, there are clear opportunities for those members of a smaller scale or under UK ownership who have yet to fully realise the potential opportunity presented by overseas markets.
UK Trade and Investments (UKTI)
UKTI was formed in May 1999 as British Trade International, comprising two parts: Trade Partners UK (for export) and Invest UK (for inward investment – FDI). In October 2003, the former department name and two inner departments merged and became UK Trade & Investment to simplify the outward recognition of the organisation, and possibly to reduce confusion with the two departments. UKTI reports jointly to the Foreign Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
To support its aim to “enhance the competitiveness of companies in Britain through overseas trade and investments; and attract a continuing high level of quality foreign direct investment”.
UK Trade & Investment offers services to British businesses wanting to gain access to global markets through export, and foreign based firms wanting to invest in the UK as a base to expand globally. Under agreement Trade & Investment organisations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively Scottish Development International, Wales Government, Invest Northern Ireland are able to access UKTI services and provide support for those companies who are located in their individual countries.
UK Trade & Investment is an international organisation with headquarters in London and Glasgow in Scotland. Across its network UK Trade & Investment employs around 2,400 staff and advisers, including overseas in British Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates and trade offices, and regional offices in the nine English regions.
The delivery of many UKTI regional services within the United Kingdom is contracted out to other organisations. Traditionally this was a role played by the local Chamber of Commerce, but more recently contracts have been awarded to “bodies which are closer to government.” The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) argued that the effect of this change was to “take trade services from a single roof which employers knew and understood [and] spread them among many different organisations.” In Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, UKTI regional services are now delivered by Serco, which also provides services to local government and the private sector in the following areas: home affairs, defence, science, nuclear, health, education, welfare to work, and IT. In China, the China Britain Business Council, another private body, is the provider.
Business and University leaders work with UKTI as “Business Ambassadors”. They promote the UK internationally and highlight trade and investment opportunities. They focus on helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which sometimes face greater barriers to accessing global markets than larger businesses.
UK Trade & Investment brings together the work of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It draws staff and associated administration funding from both parent departments, but has its own stream of programme funding, for which the Chief Executive is directly responsible as accounting officer. The UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment works as part of UKTI to promote British business and produce.
UK Trade & Investment has Public Private Partnership agreements with the Federation of International Trade Associations under which they contribute market research and other reports on GlobalTrade.net.
UK Trade & Investment has an arms trade branch called UKTI DSO (UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation).
An important activity of UKTI for BFPA is the fact that it runs the Trade Access Program (TAP) which provides funding through Accredited Trade Organisations (ATO’s), for UK companies wishing to undertake business in overseas territories. The main contacts for the BFPA are in Glasgow and are Ron Archibold and Janet Tingle. The current BFPA CEO has close relations with both parties. The BFPA is not currently an ATO.
It is widely understood that a large proportion of the BFPA membership are also Importers – not least of all the BFPDA members. There is also a high degree of foreign ownership thus many of the international services offered by the BFPA recognize this community through a variety of activities including market research and the provision of data to facilitate evidence based decision making. There are also dedicated SAP’s who specilaise in the foreign exchange market. For further details of these services contact the BFPA offices on 01608 647900.