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EXPORTS from firms in Portsmouth to the rest of the world are set to increase in the coming years, despite the economic troubles affecting the world.

A study by workplace provider Regus shows that around a fifth of firms in the city plan to begin exporting in the next two years.

It comes as the Confederation of British Industry reported that by increasing the nation’s exports outside Europe, the UK economy could grow by £20bn.

Raja Ali, chief executive of business consultancy The IBD Partnership, based in North Harbour, said: ‘The Regus report shows that firms of all sizes who have diversified overseas are faring better than those who have stayed within their home markets.

‘This is no surprise to us – we trade in 19 EU countries and several in Asia – and business is booming.

‘In fact we are expanding despite the current economic climate.

‘From the outset I have traded with partners and customers across the globe and in my view, the British attributes of professionalism, quality of service, dedication and value for money are held in very high esteem overseas.

‘There are so many opportunities to be grasped by British firms, especially in consultancy and services.’

Mr Ali is calling on the government to help make it easier for firms looking to start exporting their goods and services.

He said: ‘It is fair to say that there is still much reticence amongst the local business communities in Hampshire and in some ways this is understandable.

‘Our strategy is to appoint trusted partners in each region to deliver our services locally, and this helps us overcome the problems posed by language and culture.

‘I would also pinpoint the complications and hassle associated with currency conversion as one of the major barriers.

‘Exporting is the future of the economy and the government must do everything it can to give support to SMEs in this regard.’

The report from Regus shows that 83 per cent of Portsmouth’s international firms intend to expand.

The firm, which operates office space globally, including at 1000 Lakeside in North Harbour, says that result is testimony that an export strategy is contributing to their commercial success.

Celia Donne, regional director at Regus, added: ‘Our report clearly shows that overseas expansion is good for business, and firms in Hampshire are taking a lead in capitalising on this opportunity.’