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UKTI to reorganise, share export roles with cross-government departments

The UK government has announced a reshuffle of its trade arm, UK Trade & Investment, in a bid to spread trade responsibilities across government departments.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid promoting education exports in India. Photo: British High Commission New Delhi.

UKTI will also pass on some export service provision to the private sector

Under the planned transformation, government departments will share responsibility for export industries in “priority markets and sectors”. UKTI meanwhile will become the control hub, allocating resources and monitoring progress of industry exports.

The reboot comes after the budget for the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills, the governing department for UKTI, was cut by 17% last autumn despite the government setting a target of tripling growth of exports to £1tn by 2020.

“To improve the UK’s export performance we need to get the whole of government mobilised and working towards the same goal”

Education exports will be the shared responsibility of another department, but a spokeswoman has said the integration of sectors is yet to be confirmed.

“Full details behind the transformation of UKTI are not yet finalised, but will be announced in due course,” she said.

The reorganisation is headed by the business secretary, Sajid Javid, who is also leading the cross-government Exports Implementation Taskforce.

“To improve the UK’s export performance we need to get the whole of government mobilised and working towards the same goal,” he said in a statement last week.

“By putting a refocused UKTI at the centre of a co-ordinated cross-government approach relevant departments will share expertise to get UK businesses exporting.”

UK education exports total £18bn but universities minister Jo Johnson announced last year that the government aims to increase the amount to £30bn by 2020, contributing to the government’s overall goal of increasing exports to £1tn in four years.

UKTI will also pass on some export service provision to the private sector.

“Where export services can be provided by the private sector, with no or little value provided by government’s involvement, the government ultimately intends to exit that market and will focus instead on fostering an invigorated private sector export support marketplace,” the department said in a statement.

In a further bid to do more with less, a digital platform is being developed to provide businesses with export information, support, and advice.

“The use of new, lower-cost, digital technologies will help us do more for businesses, more efficiently”

“We want to make the UK the easiest country in the world to do trade with by making it easier, faster and simpler for more UK businesses to start exporting, generating a more vibrant export support marketplace, and giving more financial support to exporters,” commented trade minister Lord Maude.

“The use of new, lower-cost, digital technologies will help us do more for businesses, more efficiently.”

Last year, UKTI launched its five-year GREAT exporting campaign to drive up the number of new exporters. According to the government, the scheme has already generated more than 4,750 applications for export opportunities.

In September, English UK received significant funding from the programme to launch its ‘English is GREAT: Speak to the World’ campaign in Brazil which supported English is GREAT pavilions at education fairs and travelling classrooms around the country.

In further government efforts to boost exports, Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced 24 Trade Envoys covering 50 ‘high-growth and emerging markets’ including Angola, Iran, Nigeria and Taiwan.

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