International trade top of mind of UK business


Article from an occasional series of topical thought pieces sent by Head of Global Corporates Clare Francis to Lloyds Bank Business Leaders community.

About the author

Clare Francis

Managing Director and Head of Global Corporates, Lloyds Bank

In recent weeks, international trade for UK businesses has more than ever been top of mind. It is in the UK’s best economic interests and crucial to future prosperity. Yet Department for International Trade (DIT) estimates that, of the 2.5 million businesses registered in the UK, 360,000 with an exportable product do not believe there is a global demand for it -- and only around 11% of these businesses currently export beyond our borders. In addition, the latest data from the Lloyds Banking Group’s Business in Britain report is telling us that you are becoming less optimistic about prospects for boosting international trade.

Against this background we believe it is now more important than ever for Lloyds Bank to play an active role in supporting you in exploring international trade opportunities. Lloyds Bank is the UK’s largest domestic bank and we bank over 80% of the FTSE 100. In 2015, we supported £16.7 billion of trade transactions and processed over 30,000 individual trade transactions for our clients. We have offices across Europe, North America and Asia and relationships with banks worldwide, which means we can help you wherever your business takes you. Our Group Chairman, Lord Blackwell, recently reminded us: “Lloyds Bank has a long-established pedigree in international trade. We have strength in our UK centre of operational excellence, global reach to over 100 different countries worldwide and market-leading trade capabilities.”

I wrote to you back in July when Lloyds Bank was one of five UK banks that signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work with DIT to boost exports by transforming the way businesses access international markets. Since then we have seen the launch, this month, of two new digital platforms: DIT’s digital trade hub and Lloyds Banking Group’s new online International Trade Portal, which has a direct link to DIT’s hub. These digital resources provide gateways, delivering information and insight as well as connecting UK businesses, international buyers and international investors. They provide tools to identify international prospects and opportunities to grow international trade business, while managing potential risks. At the same time, potential customers and buyers from global markets will be able to search for and locate companies across the UK that are ready to supply the products, services and skills they need.

Some time ago, we linked commitments in Lloyds Bank’s Helping Britain Prosper Plan to DIT’s targets for increasing the value of UK exports by 2020. This spring we specifically committed to support 5,000 first time exporters during 2016 -- and a further 5,000 each year until 2020 -- as part of the government’s ambition to create 100,000 new exporters by 2020. In fact we have already helped more than 6,000 UK businesses to start trading overseas this year.

We will continue to engage with you throughout 2017 on the subject of international trade, which will also be firmly on the agenda at our next and fifth Lloyds Bank Business Leaders Summit on 6th February 2017. We have also canvassed your views on this and other issues in the Business Leaders Survey that I recently emailed to you. Your responses to this short Survey, alongside the opinions of your peers, will deliver a powerful statement on prospects for UK business, the economy and strategies for greater prosperity in the new political and economic landscape. Ipsos MORI is carrying out the survey on our behalf and your responses will be strictly anonymous. Your opinion is important to us and I hope you will participate. We will be presenting and discussing the findings at the Business Leaders Summit.

If you would like to learn more about the Lloyds Banking Group’s new International Trade Portal and our range of international trade solutions please click here or ask your teams to contact their Lloyds Bank relationship director, who will be pleased to assist further.

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