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Stepping into the UK Market with Confidence

Esther Roberts reflects on her role as Trade and Investment Director with the London Office of the Agent General, and how she can help Australian businesses achieve success in the UK.

Ever since I travelled to London for my first trade mission in 2009, there has always been a special place in my heart for this city. In recent years I’ve been working at the South Australian Agent General’s Office, working with exporters to develop business opportunities in the UK and Europe.

Though Australian exporters, for practical reasons, have turned toward Asia for trade opportunities in recent years, they should not discount the UK. Remember, for trade in goods and services, the UK remains Australia’s fifth largest two-way trading partner, our fifth largest export market and our sixth largest source of imports. The UK is also our leading trade partner in Europe, with both Australia and the UK each having a large commercial presence in the other’s country.

From a foreign direct investment (FDI) perspective, 22 per cent of the UK’s FDI offshore goes to Australia, and over the last three years, the UK was the second largest growing investor in Australia, while also remaining our second largest investor. Notwithstanding the challenges the UK faces with the current Brexit negotiations, now is the ideal time to renew our bilateral trade and investment relationship.

For Australian business, this presents an opportunity to consider when planning export strategies. And, if you are thinking of exporting to the UK, these five tips will help you step forward with confidence.

Know your market. Research the business practices in your market and tailor your marketing materials to suit. Small things, like including foreign currencies in your collateral will show customers that you’re serious about exporting. It also makes it easier to negotiate prices faster. If you need support, export marketing funding is available from Australian and State Government agencies.

Take advantage of free advice. The TradeStart Network is an extension of Austrade and is an invaluable resource to help navigate your expansion plans. In the UK, people like me can also connect you with many different opportunities. Be sure to check out the possible in-market supports via the Austrade and state government websites.

Visit the market but do your homework. All too often, companies spend up big on trade shows, with the expectation that customers will come to them. This is not the case. Those businesses that have been successful, have planned their trip well in advance, leveraging our office to generate introductions and B2B meetings.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. In any business situation, the first question customers ask is ‘what’s in it for me?’. Demonstrate your ability to solve the customer’s problem across all your communications and you will create a greater chance for conversation.

Get your paperwork in order. Creating accurate documentation and paying attention to export procedures are just as critical when exporting to the UK as anywhere else. While you don’t need an import license to import most goods into the UK or the EU, some goods need specific licenses issued by the Import Licensing Branch. The UK Government website is a good starting point; be sure to check the details.

Please get in touch if you would like any further information.