Letter: Good for business

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The Independent Online
Sir: There has been a great deal of comment in recent weeks on the role of government, and particularly the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its diplomatic posts abroad, in international trade promotion. The British Overseas Trade Board, whose members are drawn from across the business community, is in a particularly strong position to comment on the promotional work of our ambassadors and commercial counsellors around the world.

Although there may be some occasions when some criticism is justified, taken as a whole our firm conviction is that an excellent job is done in supporting British companies through a wide range of services, which include market research, establishing appropriate business contacts and links, supporting trade missions and seeking the right business opportunities.

Not least, our posts abroad provide information that highlights the activity of our foreign competitors. Our concerns are much more in the area of maintaining our present level of services abroad and building on the work carried out by the posts. We have therefore recruited 70 export promoters, experienced international businessmen seconded by British companies to add additional weight and are also putting more resources into promoting the opportunities available overseas, and helping British companies to take advantage of them.

The enthusiasm, judgement and expertise of our commercial staff abroad are a great asset to British business and we greatly value and encourage their efforts.

Yours faithfully,

Sir DEREK HORNBY, Chairman, British Overseas Trade Board; HOWARD DAVIES, Director General, CBI; Sir ALAN COCKSHAW, Chairman, Amec; Sir COLIN CHANDLER, Chairman, Vickers; PETER GODWIN, Managing Director, West Merchant Bank

Overseas Trade Services

London, SW1

1 March