The logic behind the Trade Fairs Support Scheme is easy to follow. Last year grants worth £20m went to trade groups to help 9,000 small and medium sized firms exhibit at trade shows overseas. The investment was more than offset by tax generated by new export orders won from the shows – predicted to generate sales worth £500m this year.
The last Government planned to turn the grant aid into a lottery through a complex bidding system.
Campaigners who lobbied hard to hold on to the scheme are justifiably pleased at Margaret Beckett’s decision to save it. But with her decision comes plans for a new export forum – aiming to review all the means Government has to help exporters.
Supporting international trade fairs through a competition was clearly ill-conceived, but the sensible plans for a thorough rethink deserve positive support and an open mind from trade associations.