Campaigners aim to boost exports by £2.6bn across city region

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A NEWLY launched campaign aims to ensure an additional £2.6bn is generated via exports from the Leeds City Region in the next five years.

The We Are International campaign, an initiative by Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, UK Trade & Investment and Chamber International, seeks to boost the regional economy by improving exporting performance.

The Export Network, an integral part of the campaign, was launched this month. A group of experienced exporters from a range of sectors will act as ambassadors, champions and mentors in the campaign.

Eric Hawthorn, MD of Shipley-based exporter Radio Design, who is part of the Export Network, said: “The Leeds City Region is currently running a £1bn trade deficit for its products and services which this campaign aims to turn into a £1.6bn surplus by 2018.

“Two-thirds of businesses do not even have exporting as part of their growth strategy but research shows that exporting businesses are generally more successful and resilient than those who do not.”

The value of exports from Yorkshire and the Humber fell to £15.741bn in 2012, a £380m drop on the previous year, according to recent HMRC figures. They showed that in the fourth quarter of 2012 total exports from the region were worth £3.986bn, down from £4.003bn on the previous quarter.

There were some gains in certain global markets, though. Exports to Asia and Oceania from Yorkshire and the Humber were worth £1.912bn in 2012, compared to £1.690bn in 2011, and exports to Eastern Europe increased from £207m in 2011 to £264m in 2012. But, exports from the region to the European Union were down to £8.152bn, from £8.698bn in 2011.

Current and potential exporting businesses attended the Export Network’s inaugural meeting at the offices of law firm, DLA Piper, in Leeds, or took part through video conference links from Bradford and York.

The event also attracted two visiting Canadian trade advisers, Valerie Strand and Tish Nicolls. John Chacksfield, who co-founded Trio Healthcare, Skipton, which manufacturers silicone medical devices, is also part of the Export Network. He said that exporting had helped the business to quickly build up a multi-million pound turnover and attract an international buyer six years after its launch.