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"We've got UKTI people around the world, so we can help them as they go into countries, introduce them to people, help fund trade shows and bring them on trade trips." Through its UK Export Finance department, the government has a number of initiatives to support SMEs looking to trade internationally, including the £1bn Direct Lending Scheme. However, the £5bn Export Refinancing Facility to support the finances of foreign importers of British goods has yet to launch, despite original plans for it to have been up and running by the end of 2012. It is being held up by legal work to get around European Union state aid law.

China Takes Anti-Dumping Complaint to WTO China has made a complaint against EU imposed anti-dumping duties. A ruling in 2011 found that EU duties on iron and steel screws and bolts were contrary to international rules, and gave the EU a timetable to comply with the rules by October 2012. The EU claims it has now complied with the requirements, but China says the calculations used are incorrect.

US Beef Ban to be lifted The US Department of Agriculture confirmed in November that the 15 year ban on beef from the EU would be lifted. The restriction will end 90 days after the legislation is published. The EU welcomed the move and expressed hope that the remaining bans on sheep and goat products would also be removed soon.

Lack of Finance ‘Killing UK Export Drive’ A joint report from CBI and BDO claims that medium sized businesses are not getting the support they need to export and invest abroad. The CBI claims that the economy could benefit by as much as £20 billion per year if access to the required finance could be unlocked. The report is particularly scathing about the UK Export Finance (UKEF) services, which it claims delivered support to just 52 small and medium sized enterprises in the last year. The join report calls for the number of companies supported to grow five-fold by making financial support more accessible. The report found that 69% of exporting SME’s were unaware of both UK Trade and Investment and UKEF. The report also hits out at bureaucracy and in particular the restrictions imposed by the Bribery Act.

EU Trade Agreement with Georgia The EU has successfully concluded a trade deal with Georgia. The Deep and comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) will enable Georgia to enjoy better access to EU markets for its goods and services through the EUR1 agreement. No date for implementation has yet been agreed.

EU Reopens membership talks with Turkey Turkey and the EU recommenced membership talks in November after a break of three years. Iceland and Macedonia are also seen as potential future members of the Union, with numerous other potential candidate countries, mostly from the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union, also under consideration.

IOE Newsletter - January 2014  
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