Liam Fox eyes 50 countries amid British exports drive

Liam Fox has urged British businesses to take advantage of new opportunities to export around the world, with his Department for International Trade highlighting 50 countries as potential markets for UK firms.

Dr Fox said UK firms were "world leaders in many sectors", including financial services and technology, and there was a chance to "help more businesses achieve their exporting potential".

The International Trade Secretary has previously criticised British bosses for failing to boost exports, suggesting that some executives were more interested in playing golf than working to strike overseas deals.

Officials in his department have identified opportunities in more than 20 sectors in 50 countries, including healthcare projects in the Gulf, selling financial services in Australia or Brazil and infrastructure projects in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Dr Fox said: "With a new year comes new opportunities and I want to encourage businesses big and small, up and down the country, to take advantage of them.

"From technology in India to aerospace in the USA, there's no shortage of demand and UK businesses have the knowledge, skills and expertise to truly add value and make the UK a partner of choice.

"We are world-leaders in many sectors such as financial services and technology. My department has already identified more than 50 countries that could benefit from British expertise and we are continuing work on exploring more export opportunities with other nations.

"We have a real opportunity to build on this country's wide range of successful exports, reach out to new markets and help more businesses achieve their exporting potential."

Exports contribute over £511 billion to the UK's GDP but Dr Fox's views on British corporate attitudes on the issue were revealed in unguarded comments last year.

At a drinks reception in September, Dr Fox was reported as saying some bosses were choosing not to seek to boost exports because "it might be too difficult or too time-consuming or because they can't play golf on a Friday afternoon".

He lamented that "this country is not the free-trading nation that it once was" because it had "become too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations".

Dr Fox's department is now developing almost 200 high value exporting campaigns to target the markets and sectors that have been identified in a drive to help companies make their mark abroad.

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