Beckett playing fair

Margaret Beckett, the trade and industry secretary, who has overturned the Conservative’s decision to scrap the Trade Fairs Support Scheme, has said she will set up an export forum to oversee it and other DTI initiatives. The export forum will, said trade minister Lord Clinton-Davis, be a partnership between business and Whitehall, looking at export […]

Margaret Beckett, the trade and industry secretary, who has overturned the Conservative’s decision to scrap the Trade Fairs Support Scheme, has said she will set up an export forum to oversee it and other DTI initiatives.

The export forum will, said trade minister Lord Clinton-Davis, be a partnership between business and Whitehall, looking at export promotion initiatives and making recommendations for improvement.

Its job will be to look at the strengths and weaknesses of official support for trade fairs and missions, identifying sales leads, export marketing research and other export promotion activities. It is due to report to Clinton-Davis by the autumn.

The announcement followed the reinstatement of the Trade Fairs Support Scheme, which last year gave 9,000 small and medium sized firms practical assistance and £20m in grants to exhibit in groups at 320 overseas trade shows.

Jolyon Potter, secretary of the Trade Fairs Support Scheme Campaign committee, said: `The last Government would have had industry competing for support under the highly complex bidding system known as Sector Challenge.

`Beckett appreciated that exporters face sufficient challenges without Government making their task more difficult.’

* Beckett was due to detail her vision for the DTI and competitiveness to an audience of senior industrialists yesterday.