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Midlands Businesses Tap into African Markets with the Department For International Trade

Winning Business in Africa3Sixty companies from across the West Midlands are at the first stage of exporting to countries across Africa after experts travelled from the continent to offer their advice on trading with the markets there.

Organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) West Midlands, the ‘Winning Business in African Markets’ programme included talks from specialists from Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.

Delegates were also able to discuss potential export opportunities via Skype with trade advisers in Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethiopia at the event at the GTG Training Academy in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton.

Dozens of one-to-one meetings also took place as businesses sought advice from DIT’s International Trade Advisers (ITAs) and bilateral and overseas British Chambers of Commerce.

Stefan Szabo, Head of International Trade, Black Country, said: “It was great to see so many businesses from our region actively looking to export their goods and services to countries in Africa. Our Exporting is GREAT and Midlands Engine campaigns are already firing up companies that want to find out more about opportunities overseas and events such as these help us to drive home that message. Africa’s consumer-facing industries are expected to grow by more than £260 billion by 2020 and ‘Brand Britain’ is already held in high regard for its quality, tradition and style. There are fantastic opportunities to be had across Africa and by speaking to the specialists who were at the event, Midlands companies could soon be making the contacts they need to help break into their target markets.”

Tony Burkson, CEO of the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, which was launched only in September last year, told delegates that the country’s five-year average GDP growth rate is 7.7% - compared with the global average of 2.72%.

He said there is demand for British goods and services in a diverse range of areas from the oil and gas sector to pharmaceutical.

He said: “There are huge opportunities to add value. In construction, new high rises are being built and in renewable energy there is a target to achieve 10% where it is currently 0.01%.”

Oliver Glendenning, sales and marketing director of Stourbridge-based Parry’s Building Supplies, also encouraged those attending to take advantage of the opportunities in the continent.

Parry’s, which manufactures steel pre-cast moulds for the building industry, already exports to 16 countries in east, west and north Africa and the company has used DIT expertise and research to help it access specialists in the right markets.

“Every challenge is an opportunity for business and we’ve been able to trade successfully in Africa,” he told delegates. “I find there are people I work with in UK whom I’ve never met, but my relationships with businesses in Africa are much closer because they want to meet you and build trust that way.”

Any company interested in breaking into overseas markets, and taking advantage of the global appetite for UK goods and services, should visit the new online trade hub, great.gov.uk, part of the Government’s Exporting is GREAT initiative.

great.gov.uk is a single digital destination for trade and investment, bringing together and connecting UK businesses, international buyers and international investors. Whether businesses are new, occasional or frequent exporters, they will be able to take advantage of the new suite of tools and exclusive deals on fees or commissions with some of world’s leading online marketplaces.

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