COVID-19: What Support Is Available to UK Exporters?

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By Louis Perrin

Here at Hemisphere Freight Services, we recognise the challenge that exporters are facing as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit. Throughout this time, we have continued to provide a full integrated logistics service to companies that trade overseas, going above and beyond to help keep their supply chains moving.

However, with many businesses needing additional help to maintain their operations and revenue, it’s important that they have access to the information they need. With that in mind, we have put together a guide outlining the support currently available to UK-based exporters and companies that are looking to start exporting.

The following list covers the support available to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with organisations that can help with all other aspects of exporting.

Department for International Trade

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is a government department that helps UK businesses achieve export success. The department’s Exporting is GREAT campaign has helped thousands of companies enter overseas markets, providing an online tool that lets businesses search for international clients interested in importing from the UK.

DIT recently contacted over 160,000 UK businesses about the support it offers exporters, from advice on intellectual property and selling online to exploiting new markets overseas. It has also advised companies on how to secure export finance to help them continue trading during and after the coronavirus outbreak.

UK Export Finance

As the UK’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF) helps business access funding to support their international growth, while also guaranteeing payments made to overseas buyers. Through the Export Working Capital Scheme, UKEF provides partial guarantees covering up to 80% of the risk to lenders, so exporters can mitigate any cash flow issues that arise when fulfilling overseas orders.

Export Insurance

UKEF also offers an Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) that helps exporters recover the costs of orders terminated by events beyond their control. The scheme is intended for “challenging markets” and ensures companies still get paid when private insurers are unable to offer the necessary cover.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, EXIP has been extended to cover transactions with the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the USA. Exports to these markets from the UK totalled £499 billion in 2019, accounting for 74% of all international sales.

Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT)

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) was founded in 1935 to represent and support the interests of any company involved in international trade. It provides education and training programmes, as well as formal qualifications covering everything from sales and marketing to logistics and international trade finance.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) offers assistance on various areas relating to exporting and importing. The HMRC website contains information and guides on topics including the classification of goods, tariffs and duties, VAT and duty relief, export licences, export taxes, import licences and rates of exchange.

Export Control Organisation (ECO)

The Export Control Organisation (ECO) is responsible for assessing and issuing (or refusing) export licences for items exported from the UK that are subject to export control. It issues licences for a range of controlled, or “strategic”, goods including:

  • Military equipment
  • Dual-use goods – items that can be used for both civil and military purposes
  • Radioactive sources

Visit the ECO website to find out if your product needs an export licence.

Trade Associations

No matter the sector your company operates in, you should be able to find support from a relevant trade association. As well as representing their members and lobbying the government, the majority of trade associations provide expert support, with many having the international scope to advise anyone considering (or already) exporting.

To find your sector’s trade association, you can either search the internet or use an online directory such as the Trade Association Forum.

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), along with its 53 Accredited Chambers, supports and advises UK exporters on all areas of international trade. Services include market research, export documentation, training, letters of credit and translation services.

The BCC also has a dedicated coronavirus page, providing advice from a number of sources including the government.

Intellectual Property Office (IPO)

When selling your goods overseas, you’ll want to ensure your intellectual property (IP) is protected. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is responsible for IP rights such as designs, patents, copyright and trademarks. It helps businesses get the right type of protection for their product and provides guidance on protecting IP aboard.

Enterprise Europe Network

Supported by the European Commission, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) helps companies take advantage of business opportunities in the European Union. It comprises 600 partner organisations in more than 40 countries, with regional experts in the UK helping companies find international business partners, source new technology or receive EU funding.

Helping companies export for over 30 years

If you’re looking for a logistics partner to assist with your overseas growth, we have the experience and expertise to deliver an end-to-end service encompassing everything from warehousing and export packing to customs clearance and transport via road, sea or air.

Whether you’d like to discuss your logistics requirements or simply need some advice on exporting, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are here to help.