Chamber streamlines export support

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce is aligning its support services for both enterprise and international trade in a step to increase exports from the city region.

The Sheffield Enterprise Agency has traditionally supported new business start-ups and existing business growth. While the South Yorkshire International Trade Centre (SYITC), focuses on direct support to exporters and importers through the provision of export documentation, letters of credit, advice and translations.

Both organisations will continue to operate separately under the Chamber brand however they will bring together their expertise to provide businesses with support on trade growth. Chamber staff will focus on helping companies understand the market and support them to exploit the opportunity.

Sheffield Chamber has identified seven international chambers which it will partner with to help businesses get their products into a relevant target market. This includes Bolivia and Columbia (South America), Donetsk, Romania and Prague (Eastern Europe), Pittsburgh (USA) and Chengdu (China).

Michelle Daniel, international trade team leader at SYITC, said: “Relationships with these Chambers are already good and we will look to utilise these to support international trade activity.

“Growing international trade, and particularly exports, is a critical success factor to the city’s future economy and Sheffield Chamber is committed to supporting this through direct intervention with businesses.

“It is a priority area for the strategy of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise partnership and if it could be achieved will give the region a real competitive and commercial advantage.”

Paul Tinsley, business support manager at Sheffield Enterprise Agency, added: “This is not a quick fix project. Growth must be accelerated from where it is now but the type of products we can compete in across the world have relatively high barriers to entry.

“There is currently a real gap in the provision of support for trade growth. Whilst UKTI are available to give advice on market opportunities, particularly in strategic sectors we need to build on and complement the work they do at company level to turn that knowledge into real sales.”