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A guide to exporting internationally

When the UK was part of the European Union, we were included in the trade agreements that the European Commission negotiated with other countries. Since Brexit, we have been able to determine our own trade policy. As a result, the government has been working to negotiate Free Trade Agreements with partner countries across the globe that are tailored to the specific needs of the UK.

FTAs are designed to eliminate many of the barriers businesses face when trading across borders. Examples include reducing or completely removing tariffs; facilitating investment and cross-border cooperation; simplifying trading procedures like customs controls and rules of origin, and encouraging business mobility across borders.

From our surveys and conversations, our members have told us they are disincentivised from international trade because of the costs involved, and the time it takes to dedicate to business overseas. The government has listened. For example many of the most recent trade deals have included a standalone chapter dedicated to SMEs to allow smaller businesses to take full advantage of the opportunities in the wider world.

Below, we have listed useful links, clips, and resources that will signpost you to information, funding opportunities, and support lines, whether you are new to exporting, or are looking to expand your international business, both for countries with whom we have signed recent FTAs, and more generally.

New to exporting? 

  • Sign-up to the UK Export Academy – a free, comprehensive training offer for UK businesses featuring masterclasses, events, mentoring and roundtables.
  • Generate an export plan with the DIT’s Export Plan Builder.
  • Identify high potential markets all over the world with Market Finder.

Need finance?

  • Enquire about financial support – UK Export Finance (UKEF), the Government’s export credit agency, could provide you with the right finance and insurance to help you export.
  • Access the Internationalisation Fund  – open to eligible SMEs in England for European Regional Development. Funding to support internationalisation projects directed at entering new overseas markets.

Have an exporting question you need help with?  

  • Contact the Export Support Service online or on 0300 303 8955 – ESS is the first point of contact for businesses across the UK who have specific questions about exporting to Europe. The service will expand to cover more global markets from 2022.
  • Check for trade barriers.
  • If something is unjustifiably restricting your goods or services in an overseas market, report it to DIT and they will try to help.

Watch What is free trade? | What is an export? | What is a non-tariff barrier? | A Guide for UK Businesses on FTAs

Read the 12-point plan for export growth in the Government’s export strategy: Made in the UK, Sold to the World

Find out more about the trade deals we have signed, and that are in progress:

  • UK-Japan CEP.A sector benefits, which sets out in detail the benefits of the deal for businesses in each sector.
  • UK-Australia FTA sector benefits, which sets out in detail the benefits of the deal for businesses in each sector.
  • UK-India FTA  regional and national factsheets, which set out in detail the benefits of the deal for businesses in each part of the UK.
  • UK-New Zealand FTA regional and national factsheet, which set out in detail the benefits of the deal for businesses in each part of the UK.

Better directors for a better world

The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.

Doing business after Brexit

Browse valuable EU and trade resources from the IoD.
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