UKTI New York trade mission diary: Day 1 – Travelling across the Atlantic

Visiting every corner of the globe, trade missions have long been used as a way to give ambitious companies a leg up in new markets. Making that first foray into a new territory is a risky process – fraught with language barriers, cultural differences and complex taxes.

As the organisation behind these trade missions, the government’s UK Trade and Investments (UKTI) body exists to give businesses an introduction to new markets and meetings with potential partners.

It is a crucial contributor to the government achieving its target of £1tn in British exports by 2020 – no matter how ambitious some say this goal is. The plan is to have 100,000 more companies exporting inside the next five years and a doubling of the UK’s stock of foreign investment over the same period.

Alongside establishing initiatives such as a cabinet-level “Exports Task Force” chaired by new business secretary Sajid Javid, UKTI also hopes its continued trade missions will be a big contributor.

Hung off the back of the NY NOW trade show, the trade mission Real Business is currently on will see ten SMEs based in the South East of England gain valuable access to buyers, customers and the American market.

It is being run in partnership with Norwegian Air, an airline which recently opened up a low-cost route to the east coast of the US. It’s reportedly the third largest low-cost airline in Europe and seventh largest low-cost airline in the world. Having set up its UK base at Gatwick in April 2013, the airline is now the third largest airline at the airport with over 130 pilots and nearly 300 cabin crew.

In true trade mission style, our travelling group assembled as one at Gatwick. The ten businesses in attendance were the winners of a UKTI competition – meeting the eligibility criteria of being based in the South East of England, a small or medium-sized company selling homeware, giftware or lifestyle products designed in the UK and either a new exporter or active exporter investigating opportunities in the US.

Travelling 36,000 ft above the Atlantic en route to John F. Kennedy airport in New York, entrepreneurs at the helm of dog accessory, baby carrier, male grooming and novelty chocolate businesses were in attendance. Each are a great example of the varied and exciting companies currently being grown in the South East of England.

The ten businesses are:

Alice Foxx (dog accessories)
Amulette (jewellery)
Connecta Baby (baby products)
Geoffrey Fisher Design (homeware and giftware)
Jin Designs (homeware and giftware)
Josephine Home (fashion)
MOJO Skin and Hair (male grooming products)
Schokolat (chocolate)
SOAK Yourself (bathing products)
Sportpax (kid’s accessories)

Read more on British exports:

Over the course of their stay in New York, each business owner will have the opportunity to have their products showcased in the British Pavilion showcase at NY NOW, gain valuable insight into the US homeware, lifestyle and giftware market, have access to market briefings with overseas experts and support from UKTI trade advisors.

Real Business is in attendance to see how they get along, as well as meeting with UKTI, Bank of America and USA Corporate Services representatives. We’ll also be finding out how Norwegian Air will be helping businesses in the UK further the export drive.

For any company interested in being part of a trade mission, or just want to see what goes on during one, our daily diaries will provide great insight. We’ll also be publishing interviews with some of the most promising businesses in attendance, quizzing UKTI about what it looks to achieve with these trips, as well as how realistic the 2020 target is, and provide a general snapshot of doing business in the US.

We hope you join us for what is already an existing journey! The next instalment will be on Monday 1 February.

Key exporting statistics:

  • UK exports of goods and services were £515bn in 2014
  • The largest increases were to Switzerland (up £6.4bn or 38.9 per cent), Italy (up £1.3bn or 8.5 per cent) and China (up £1.1bn or six per cent)
  • The five largest markets remained the US (£88bn), Germany (£43.3bn), the Netherlands (£34.1bn), France (£30.6bn) and Ireland (£27.9bn)
  • Some 91 of the UK businesses supported by UKTI are small and medium-sized businesses
  • Nearly one in five (19 per cent) of the same group are new to exporting or have been exporting for less than one year
Trade missions take entrepreneurs to all corners of the globe, as we found out from Paul Maher who journeyed to China in search of new opportunities.

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