Businesses need to look abroad

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BUSINESSES in Wigan need to do more to develop links with foreign companies and encourage trade and investment abroad.

That’s the verdict of a new report published by Manchester-based organisation New Economy, which suggests Greater Manchester’s business is punching well below its weight on the international stage.

Firms in Greater Manchester exported less in value terms than city regions such as Leeds and Birmingham, though more than Merseyside and Bristol.

In total, businesses in the county exported around £7 billion worth of goods and services.

Baron Frankal, director of strategy at New Economy, said: “In the current economic climate, we need to take advantage of growth opportunities internationally through exports more than ever.

“This report shows that Greater Manchester’s recent export performance has been relatively turbulent and that there is still room for improvement.”

While commending companies that have already developed links with companies around the world, more work needs to be done to create further international links, while securing more inward investment for the Greater Manchester economy.

New Economy recommends that Greater Manchester must respond to the growing potential of foreign markets, particularly of emerging economies in Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East.

The report also recommends increased training and provision to ensure firms are tailoring their services to the needs of foreign markets, and increased government investment on trade missions and schemes to promote awareness of international commerce.

In addition, New Economy is discussing with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce the possibility of setting up a Greater Manchester export guarantee scheme.

This would be funded locally through private sector investment and allow businesses in Wigan to reduce some of the risks associated with trading overseas.

Baron Frankal said: “It is important for Greater Manchester firms to establish more trading linkages around the world . And also to continue securing a good level of inward investment, whilst the domestic economy remains subdued.”