The North East Chamber of Commerce has won a £1.5m-a-year Government contract to boost exports from the region.
The region is the only one in the country to consistently have a positive balance of trade in exports, a distinction the Chamber is hoping to boost with five-year contract with UK Trade & Investment.
The chamber is currently celebrating its 200th anniversary, having been formed in part to boost trade from the Port of Newcastle.
It will now use its position as the region’s largest business membership organisation to help more companies find work in the global marketplace.
Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “Today’s news is great for North East exporters and NECC. Chambers of Commerce provide the only truly global business network, with Chambers in every major commercial centre around the world.
“We already boast a wealth of links and expertise to help regional businesses trade overseas. Securing the UKTI contract will help us marry up everything and provide a comprehensive export support service that will help our region maximise our potential and help more firms tap into lucrative foreign markets.
“The Chancellor laid down the challenge to double UK exports by 2020. With the successful delivery of this contract, we will make sure the North East continues to punch above its weight in export markets.”
The chamber is planning to use its membership and links to all sectors of industry and other regional business networks to increase visibility of the region’s 23-strong expert team of International Trade Advisers, which includes two dedicated medium-sized business sector advisers and a language and culture adviser.
Businesses exploring overseas markets will have access to accurate impartial advice and overseas market intelligence through the service.
In addition to the core services for new exporters such as Passport to Export, the Overseas Market Introduction Service and the Export Marketing Research Scheme, the new service will also bring new services to match the needs of North East businesses wishing to access and expand into new markets
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets, and encourage the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice.
Regional director David Coppock said: “As well as boasting long-established links with local businesses and the wider business support community, NECC brings a particular level of expertise in not only persuading non-exporters to investigate the potential of tapping into the global marketplace, but also brings with it decades of experience in its own International Trade team.
“It’s this knowledge combined with the Chamber’s proven track record in delivering successful business growth services that will help us take North East exports to the next level.”
The chamber’s international trade director Julie Underwood said: “I am absolutely delighted that NECC has secured the contract to deliver this essential and much valued service.
“We have the businesses, we have the expertise and most importantly we have the growing confidence to make sure the North East remains the envy of the UK when it comes to exports.”