Wales Business Export Summit Speech

Alun Cairns opens the Wales Business Export Summit at Cardiff City Hall.



Good morning and thank you Dylan for the introduction, I’m delighted to be welcoming you all here this morning.

This event has been in the making since my very first conversation with Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, back in the summer of last year.

It was in the aftermath of the referendum, and the reality that the nation had just voted to leave the EU.

We recognised that this would provide some challenges for all Welsh businesses and as mentioned to me by the chairman of CBI, businesses thrive on change and have shown great resilience.

However, we also recognise that this is a time of great opportunity, for the UK, Welsh businesses and the economy.

As part of the United Kingdom, Wales benefits from the economic security and international influence that comes from pooling our resources and sharing our successes with Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

We need to make sure businesses in Wales have every tool in the box available to them, to take advantage of the opportunities presented.

Liam and I, and the Welsh Government share the same vision for a global and outward looking United Kingdom, and support a desire to ensure his department helps businesses right across the UK to reach their full potential by looking to global markets.

As the Prime Minister said in January ‘the result of the referendum was not a decision to turn inward and retreat from the world’. She set up the UK Government Department of International Trade to focus on supporting you and other businesses in your trade ambitions and for that reason we must all be ambitious for Wales, and I want to see us taking advantage of every opportunity.

In December, Liam Fox and I met with a number of Welsh businesses.

Today, this summit builds on that engagement by bringing together more businesses from across Wales to hear about exporting.

In a few minutes, you will hear from my good friend and colleague, Mark Garnier, the Minister for Trade. He and I met last week to discuss how we can work together promoting trade and investment in Wales – We are already planning for the outcomes of today’s summit.

I fully intend to ensure Welsh businesses are central to trade missions, I will be attending number of trade missions to offer my support to help land you that deal and I hope some of you will be able to join me.


Wales is already an exporting nation, the value of Welsh exports was £11.6 billion in 2015.

With technological advances removing the barriers of time and distance we have a golden opportunity to forge a new role for ourselves in the world, one which puts British people first.

Much of the advance technology powering our mobile phones and other devices is being pioneered right here in Wales.

Over half of the world’s commercial aircraft are now flying using wings made by Airbus in Broughton and every two seconds, a GE powered airplane is taking off somewhere in the world.

But it’s not just big business that can export, in fact, big business will only take us so far in our ambition.

In 2015, 4,000 Welsh companies took their first steps into exporting – my ambition is to see more Welsh businesses following in their footsteps.

Last week I was at the South Wales Chambers of Commerce Wales Business Awards where I had the privilege to meet with a number of different businesses that already export.

I’d like to extend my congratulations to winners of the success through overseas trade award, Welsh Hills Bakery, and all the nominees, some of whom I know are in this room today.

Small businesses across Wales, who are also supported by FSB and others, are exporting for the first time, with the support of both UK and Welsh Government.

Welsh lamb, Penderyn Whiskey and Anglesey Sea Salt to name just a few.

Halen Môn has been exporting since 2001 and has grown to the point where it now sells salt in 17 different countries across the world.

Government support

The exporting success of companies like Halen Môn is down to the entrepreneurship of those involved in the company. But Government also has apart to play in helping and supporting.

For Halen Môn, that included, setting up meetings with buyers in markets ranging from Hong Kong to Singapore, China, Russia and Japan.

Helping them navigate the necessary paperwork

And supporting their application for Protected Designation of Origin status in 2014.

Additionally, UK Government can support business by bringing together inspiring GREAT British companies in complimentary areas on Trade Missions and at other events.

The UK Government has 1,200 dedicated staff in 109 countries worldwide – a world class resource for businesses in Wales continue to tap in to and that is exactly what I want to see happening.

The Department for International Trade is a department for the whole of the UK, and I want to see businesses in Wales taking advantage of the support they can offer. Whether you are a business in Swansea or Swindon, you are entitled to the same support.

This financial year the activity calendar has included 791 trade missions and events available to UK companies.

It also includes more than 80 DIT created inward and outward missions to and from the UK with our key trading partners globally.

In Wales, the DiT has helped more than 600 companies this year with export service deliveries – including support from our posts overseas, help attending international trade shows and market research.

20 Welsh Companies have told us that our support has helped them win export deals worth more than £200 million in the last nine months.

Working with the Welsh Government

The support offered by the Welsh Government complements the support offered by UK Government. We are not in competition. We both want Welsh businesses to export and secure export deals.

Together, we are supporting businesses of all sizes and in all sectors with every step of their exporting journey.

I know the economic Minister, Ken Skates is disappointed not to be able to attend today, but later on this morning, Mick McGuire, Director for Sectors at the Welsh Government, will be joining us, alongside representatives from UK Government, for a session on the exporting support available to businesses in Wales.

I believe this demonstrates just how closely the UK Government and Welsh Government are working on this shared agenda.

After that, we will hear from Jon Rennie of Cloth Cat Animation, Tim Lowe from Dawnus, and Andrew Evans of SPTS, three successful Welsh exporters on their experiences of exporting and how Government has supported them in their endeavours. I would also like to hear where the UK Government could have gone further.


I hope that you will leave here today inspired to look to global markets.

I also hope that you leave here knowing how to access the tools that will help you make that vision a reality.

There are millions of people across the world looking for your skills, expertise, goods and services and I urge you to have a look.

My job as Secretary of State for Wales is to stand up for Welsh businesses and do everything I can to help companies like yours to prosper. My door is always open to you.

I want to emphasise that at a UK level, through my department at the Wales Office, through the Department for International Trade, and through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we can help you take this vital work even further, forging new relationships around the world.

We are determined to do anything and everything we can to grow your business and secure export deals. I would now like to welcome the Minister for International Trade, Mark Garnier, who will talk more about the benefits of trading, and about the support that is available through his department.

Published 6 March 2017