Trade minister pledges support for SMEs looking to export

During a visit to the North East, Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston met with business leaders and offered advice to regional firms

Trade Minister Lord Livingston
Trade Minister Lord Livingston

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston reiterated his support for small and medium-sized businesses as he met with entrepreneurs and business leaders during a tour of the North East.

On his first visit to the region since his appointment, the minister joined the celebrations of the region’s exporting prowess at the North East Exporters’ Awards, run by the North East Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Journal and Evening Gazette.

This was followed by a packed programme of company visits and a meeting with NECC, the North East LEP, Tees Valley Unlimited and a number of regional firms.

Lord Livingston heard first-hand from businesses currently looking to export overseas and encouraged them to work with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and UK Export Finance (UKEF).

“Increasing the number of UK businesses that sell overseas is a key part of the Government’s long term economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy and research has shown time and again that companies do better when they export,” he said.

“Many North East firms are already reaping the rewards of exporting and have contributed to the region’s economic success, with more than £11.5bn of exports in the last year.”

During his visit, the Minister was given an insight into the success of Techflow Flexibles and Techflow Marine, both operating in Cramlington, Northumberland.

Techflow Flexibles specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of hoses to the oil and gas exploration and production industries, while Techflow Marine’s specialism lies in fluid transfer systems, particularly for the oil and gas sector.

Graham Clark, director for both businesses, said: “The Minister was able to see first-hand the machining, production and assembly of our hose and reeling systems for our export clients at our Cramlington facilities.

“Techflow Marine had an opportunity with a major Chinese oil and gas company which would help towards more than doubling our turnover from £4.5m to £10m and without UK Export Finance’s bond support, this contract would have been too big for us at that time.

“However, we were able to use the freed-up funds this support provided to complete the contract and still continue to look for other international contracts and maintain our progressive growth track.

“Meanwhile, Techflow Flexibles was able to accelerate export opportunities in the Far East with working capital support backed by UK Export Finance. This backing has given the company confidence where there was uncertainty and de-risked our export drive as a result. UKEF and UKTI’s support has been an invaluable export facilitator to our UK business.”

Lord Livingston also met management and staff at Seacurus Ltd in Gateshead, a market-leading marine insurance intermediary and part of the Barbican Insurance Group.

Managing director of the business, Captain Thomas Brown, said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with Lord Livingston and to discuss with him our work with the international shipping industry to deliver bespoke insurance solutions.

“While Seacurus is a relatively small organisation, our market expertise, willingness to innovate and commitment to serving the marine sector has enabled us to secure a prominent position in the global market.”

For more information about the support services available through UK Trade & Investment, call the North East International Trade Hotline on 0845 05 05 054 or email:

UKTI North East can also be followed on Twitter at


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