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Cole Commission Report Poses Ways to Turn UK’s Trade Deficit

Cole CommisionThe Cole Commission’s final report has urged Britain to aggressively support and finance export deals to reverse its trade deficit of three years. Last year, the Labor Party had commissioned the Cole Commission to suggest ways to rejuvenate UK’s export industry.

The report suggests that UK should establish a one-stop shop for the benefit of its small exporters, enabling them to access newer markets. It also suggests that the country’s export finance body should create a wide range of financial products within the next year, enabling export companies to grab offshore sales. The focus should be on government-to-government financing, the report says.

Commission Head Graham Cole said:

Government support and finance can no longer remain apart in a world where competitive funding packaging is as important as the quality of the product on sale.

On Tuesday, CBI data indicated further decline in exports and at least one-fourth of export companies showing below-normal order books in June.

CBI Economics Director Rain Newton-Smith said:

Improving momentum in the eurozone is being offset by the effect of the strengthening pound on UK manufacturers’ overseas sales and margins. On top of that, the ongoing Greek saga is causing uncertainty.

UK’s business community, which has been frustrated by the country’s trade deficit, is happy about the report. According to Paul Raynes, the policy director of EEF, an organization of manufacturers, the action plan proposed by the Cole Commission presents “a timely review of the actions that need to be taken to grow UK exports.” He said that ideas to drive exports are the need of the hour, especially as the budget is fast approaching.

The EEF agrees with the Cole Commission when it says that the UK Trade and Investment Department should collaborate better with the country’s Export Finance body in a bid to accelerate exports.

Yull Shoes CEO Sarah Watkinson-Yull said that she is happy about the emphasis placed on SMEs. She said that the proposed one-stop shop will greatly benefit “time-starved businesses” such as hers, which have neither the resources nor the time to understand the facts essential to export products made in the UK to different parts of the world. She stated:

Having everything in a single place will encourage a new generation of SME exporters.

While complaining of how government schemes have failed to boost exports, Shadow Business Secretary Chuku Umunna said that the commission’s report not only makes “a powerful case for change,” but also suggests solutions.