The Welsh Government has announced a new export plan which it says will help overcome the impact of “stifling” EU negotiations and “incredible pressures” of Covid-19 on businesses.
The plan includes the launch of an Export Hub to give businesses in Wales the information they need to trade around the world.
Economy Minister Ken Skates said that between 2015 and 2019, the value of Welsh goods exports grew at a faster rate than the UK as a whole and, in 2019, reached £17.8bn.
However, the prolonged negotiations of the future relationship between the UK and EU had “stifled businesses’ ability to fully plan and prepare”.
He said that this had placed “incredible pressures” on firms who are already dealing with the economic impacts of coronavirus.
“Wales has so much to offer to the world and over recent years we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of our fantastic goods and services being shipped across the globe,” he said.
“This increase, which has seen exports in Wales rising faster than in the UK as a whole, has followed years of hard work by Welsh Government.
“We have worked closely with Welsh companies to help them boost their exports and grow their international trade and it is work that has been strengthened by our Economic Action Plan and International Strategy. As a country we have seen and enjoyed the economic benefits of our collective success in this area.
“However, it’s clear the coronavirus pandemic and the drawn out negotiations on the future relationship with the EU have taken their toll, with provisional statistics showing the value of Welsh goods exports for the 12 months up to the second quarter of 2020 is down 12.5% on the previous year.
“Today I am launching a new Export Action Plan, which I firmly believe is the most comprehensive and ambitious ever in Wales to support our exporting businesses to recover and rebuild. It has been developed with our partners and is specifically designed to ensure our exporting businesses are well positioned to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
The Export Action Plan, according to the Walsh Government, will focus on:
- Adapting existing programmes of export support so they align with new ways of working and the changing needs of business;
- Providing advice and support to Welsh exporters to help them manage the end of the EU transition phase;
- Reaching out to more businesses in Wales, particularly those businesses with a potential to export;
- Building capacity and capability for exporting to ensure Welsh businesses have the right skills and confidence to be successful exporters;
- Developing new export support interventions, including piloting a new Export Cluster initiative to facilitate strong networks of export support;
- Delivering overseas activity in key markets and matching these opportunities for sectors where Wales has particular sectoral strengths.
- A new online Export Hub is also available for businesses. This provides live information on a range of export issues, and will support both new and existing exporters to grow and address any challenges they face with the future trading environment.
In addition, a series of ‘virtual export market visits’ have been set up for the remainder of this financial year to ensure Welsh businesses can continue to meet with potential customers in target markets.