Our history is bound up with imports and exports. One of the principal reasons for the development of the navy was to protect Britain’s trade routes with the rest of the world.
It was vital to protect our merchant fleet as manufacturers sought new overseas markets for their goods.
That urge to export goods drove the growth in the British economy. So in Portsmouth and Southampton we see the two sides of our maritime history – the intertwining of commercial and naval interests.
Today, economic necessity means that trade continues to be the bedrock of our economy. The main markets driving economic growth are in the Far East and Latin America. If we are to benefit from that growth we need to tap into those markets.
It’s one of the reasons why David Cameron went to Japan and Indonesia earlier this month. In the past few months I’ve met the Mexican and Peruvian finance ministers when they’ve been in London to see how UK firms can help stimulate growth in their economies.
We underestimate the contribution our expertise in energy, infrastructure and creative industries can make to economic growth abroad.
Banking and insurance are vital British exports too and tomorrow I’m meeting the European Union’s trade commissioner to discuss how we can promote trade in financial services.
But we need to support businesses to export. They need to know how government and others can help them identify new markets, finance exports and tackle paperwork.
To help local businesses, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage and I are hosting a seminar on exporting this Friday. We are working with UKTI, the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to encourage businesses to think about exports. If you are interested in attending, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.