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Amazon and UKTI join forces to help SMEs go global

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American online ecommerce giant Amazon has linked up with the government to help boost British exports.

A new partnership between Amazon and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is primarily aimed at helping SMEs increase foreign trade and grow ecommerce sales.

The two parties said the agreement would help “encourage and facilitate overseas trade” for British businesses through new resources and “dedicated” programmes that show the simplicity of selling through Amazon’s global e-commerce platforms.

As part of the tie-up Amazon, which has a global market of 285 million customers making $90bn of purchases last year, said it had created a “suite of capabilities” to help SMEs.

This included assistance to manage currency exchange, translation, regulatory complexity, tax and duty, marketing and global shipment and distribution.

It said Amazon Marketplace offers an ever-increasing number of SMEs with a shop window to the world.

It said that in the last 12 months companies such as Character.com, iQualTech and The Light Factory were amongst UK businesses who collectively exported more than £1bn of products through Amazon Marketplace, with the number of UK businesses using the platform for exporting up by more than 90 per cent.

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“The global ecommerce market grew by more than 20 per cent last year, underscoring the huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes to grow their businesses by increasing sales online and expanding to new markets,” said Catherine Raines, chief executive officer of UKTI.

“By working with industry partners such as Amazon, UKTI is helping to make sure British businesses set the pace both in terms of ecommerce and exports.”

“The digital economy is expanding rapidly around the world and is creating exciting opportunities for British companies to grow by increasing their exports,” said Doug Gurr, VP and China country manager at Amazon. 

“At Amazon, we have worked hard to build systems to make it as easy for companies to sell abroad as it is for them to sell in their home market, and this new partnership with UK Trade & Investment will help UK businesses to expand their international sales and drive cross-border trade.”

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David Gutfreund, founder of The Light Factory, added: “Five years ago, we employed a handful of staff in a borrowed warehouse in Salford. Now our own lighting brand Minisun is exporting light fittings and light bulbs to over 25 countries. Export revenue is growing at 40 per cent each quarter and at the heart of our export drive is a partnership with Amazon.”

UK SMEs currently trail behind the rest of Europe in terms of exports, according to research from UKTI. Of the five million companies in the UK, only one in five currently export – compared with one in four in France and one in three in Germany.

Meanwhile, only one in five UK SMEs currently make sales through digital channels according to the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2015. 

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