by Ian Girling, chief executive, Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry

IN 2012, the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne set the UK a target to double the value of exports of goods and services to £1trillion by 2012. It was an ambitious target, challenged by many business groups and senior politicians at the time. Since 2012, the value of exports has increased from £12.7billion to over £15bn in 2015 but there is still some way to go to reach this target. It’s essential we do all we can to help businesses achieve growth through international trade – and develop their capacity to find, enter and trade in new overseas markets. As we look to the future the opportunities are significant but it’s essential our businesses have the skills and capacity to capitalise on this.

Many businesses I speak to have seen strong performance over the last 12 months or so and many have not – to date – felt the shock waves that were predicted if we chose to leave the EU. The reduction of the value of the pound has reduced the cost of UK goods and has stimulated international trade. Dorset Chamber has been helping businesses across Dorset export goods across the globe for many years through our documentation department – and we are now dealing with goods to value of around £15million each month. The increase in exports over the last few months has been significant without doubt.

However, there is still much to do in terms of getting more businesses to look at export opportunities and I am delighted to announce a new service, delivered by Dorset Chamber, funded by the European Regional Development Programme through the Dorset Growth Hub, to encourage businesses to realise and look at export opportunities and help them begin their export journey.

This month sees the start of our new export programme that will encourage and support first-time exporters. We will be promoting the opportunities and business growth that can achieved through international trade, helping businesses look that at new opportunities, looking at the early and fundamental steps involved – and help them kick start their export journey. We want to specifically work with and help those businesses that may have never considered trading overseas – and help them build their capacity to do so. We will do this through one to one advice, training courses and workshops, a new business club for those looking to export and offering opportunities to learn from those businesses that have already started this journey.

Specifically we will have strong focus on working with smaller businesses across the county that may not consider themselves to have the ability and resources to trade internationally – and help them build their capacity to explore new international markets. We will also work closely with other partners such as the Department for International Trade and the Dorset Growth Hub to maximise the learning opportunities for businesses going through the programme. If you would like to explore whether you could be exporting or find out if you could benefit from the new service, contact or call 01202 714800.