THE North-East can play a flagship role in Prime Minister David Cameron’s target for the UK double the amount it exports by 2020, the boss of the region’s UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) has said as the region was chosen to launch Export Week today (November 12).

The region, which is one of only two in England which exports more than it imports, has in the past five years doubled the value of its exports to about £14bn a year, prompting the UKTI to launch its week-long programme of events across the country with Be Part of Export for Growth at Durham Tees Valley Airport.

The Government wants the UK to double the value of exports and have a total of 100,000 companies exporting by 2020.

Loading article content

The event has been held to encourage more companies to export, with the aim of creating 500 new North-East exporters by 2015.

Last year, 600 companies in the region were helped by the UKTI.

David Coppock, regional director of Government department UKTI, told The Northern Echo he thought the Government’s targets were challenging but realistic.

“The North-East can play a flagship role in that,” he said.

“We have a positive balance of trade – which means we export more than we import - and we have got excellent industrial heritage.

“The region is a very big part of that, partly because of the airport but because of the chemical industry and automotive industry. We have two of the big vehicles for export for the UK right here.”

The event was supported by local enterprise partnership Tees Valley Unlimited, whose director of business investment, Neil Kenley, spoke about the importance of exports to the region. “The North-East really is important for exports,” he said.

“Tees Valley unlimited has a role to play. We are supporting UKTI in helping steer companies which have never exported before.”

Peter Nears, strategic planning director with the Peel Group, said they were delighted the airport, which has a thrice-daily link to international hub Schiphol Airport, inAmsterdam, had been chosen to host the event.

“The airport is crucial to exports – even these days in the age of the internet, people like to do their business face to face. They need international travel on their doorstep. If the region didn’t have an airport, it would put us at a massive disadvantage.”