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Drop in Exports is a concern for the region

Commenting on the recent announcement concerning the worsening trade balance, President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, Ninder Johal said: "The volume of exports has fallen by just below half a percent and the current account deficit has widened to just above five percent of GDP, a level which in the long- term will prove to be unsustainable.

"These figures reinforce the need to rebalance the economy towards exports and investment. It is important that the MPC and the government make every effort to sustain the recovery. Interest rates must be kept low until there is a clear need to start increasing them, and government must do more to support exporters and improve access to finance for growing businesses.

"The Black Country the Chamber of Commerce has announced three measures to help local businesses: firstly we will be rolling out an Access to Finance programme in the New Year which is designed to help small businesses make sense of the financial marketplace. The wide availability of financial products has made it difficult for business owners and managers to select the right one for their needs. We are bringing in experts in each area to explain how they can be used and provide relevant case studies. Paul Bennett, our Immediate Past President and Partner at George Green LLP will adjudicate each workshop to ensure that everyone attending understands the suitability of each product fully. The impartial nature of the Chamber means that we can focus on education rather than promoting a particular product.

"We have designed a Leadership Development programme and are rolling this out through the Black Country Growth Hub. This programme is designed to help owners and managers make the shift from operational to strategic thinking. We have designed the programme with our manufacturing base in mind and have chosen a facilitator who is currently working with small and medium sized businesses across Europe.

"Finally we have developed an export programme that supplements UK Trade and Investment delivery and provides additional resources to businesses. There has been a significant drop in export sales and orders within the Black Country manufacturing sector. This needs to be addressed quickly and we have taken immediate steps to provide the additional support businesses need.

"It is essential that the potential of this region is fully understood by decision makers and any additional help needed is made available if we are to lead the resurgence of manufacturing. Traditionally our manufacturers have led the way in terms of creativity and innovation and I am making it my priority to find ways of restoring national and international recognition of what we make in the Black Country and sell to the world."

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