The UK’s Department of International Trade has announced a five-year partnership with Barclays bank to ‘broaden, deepen and sharpen’ efforts to promote trade with UK plc. What could this mean for UK businesses?

The joint agreement, which is designed to encourage overseas investment in the UK post-Brexit and aid UK businesses across all levels of the economy to reach a wider customer base, hinges around four key areas: target markets, education, trade and export financing, and digitisation.

In a nutshell, this means:

  1. Assembling a team of experts to form a brand new Small Business High Value Exporters Pilot programme designed to identify key international target markets and develop strategies to encourage greater UK trade and exports with these markets.
  2. Using a combination of research, networking, information sharing and education to pinpoint those sectors of the UK economy ripe for growth, bring together the various elements of the supply chain, and thereby increase UK trade and exports.
  3. Improving access to, and awareness of, UK Export Finance (UKEF) products, to foster greater take-up of trade finance opportunities to fast track the growth of UK SMEs, particularly in terms of reaching markets outside of the British isles. Barclays will also look at creating a specialised UKEF Guarantee product aimed at SMEs involved in trade and exports.
  4. As part of the drive to greater digitisation of export paperwork being proposed by the Electronic Trade Document Bill, Barclays has agreed to work jointly with the UK government and the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) to progress this agenda through the launch of a Trade Digitisation Taskforce.  

This taskforce, which is to be co-chaired by Barclays Global Head of Trade & Working Capital, James Binns and Chris Southworth, Secretary General of the ICC in the United Kingdom, aims to reduce the time and costs currently associated with export-import paperwork and make the industry greener.

This partnership is part of a raft of measures being undertaken by the UK government in a bid to stimulate economic growth, especially amongst small businesses hard-hit by recent economic conditions. It is also hoped that it will strengthen public-private relationships and unlock more trade, export and investment opportunities for the UK economy post-COVID.

Emphasising the need for greater inclusion within the sector, Minister for Exports, Mike Freer,  said:

“As Exports Minister, I want to ensure small firms have the support they need to get onto that trading ladder, especially as we race towards our £1 trillion exports target.”

UK trade and exports have taken a huge knock in recent years due to Brexit, ongoing supply chain issues related to the war in Ukraine and other geopolitical factors, including a global economic slowdown and rising inflation. 

Speaking at a press conference to announce the agreement, James Binns, Global Head of Trade & Working Capital at Barclays, said:

“Helping businesses of all sizes to expand internationally is vital. Fewer than 10% of British companies export overseas but our economic modelling has revealed that global preference for goods ‘Made in Britain’ could be worth an additional £3.5bn per annum to British firms.

Policy makers, finance providers and export credit agencies all have a vital role to play in helping to stimulate a thriving, export-led economy, which is why we are pleased to launch this partnership with the Department for International Trade.”

For more information, visit the Department for International Trade (DIT) website.