Government needs to boost environmental export trade

Four fifths of the environmental industry believes government support is inadequate for the environmental export trade. A new survey by an environment industry body warns that the UK must improve its track record in the global environmental technology market to avoid missing out on huge opportunities.

A recent DTI report highlighted the UK’s poor performance in exporting environmental expertise, with a 4.7% share of the world market compared with France’s 7% and Germany’s 11%.

The latest survey of environmental companies by the Environment Industries Commission found a worrying lack of knowledge of government export promotion schemes such as the Technology Partnership Initiative. The 2002 Export Survey found that only 25% of companies used UK initiatives, and only 5% took advantage of EU ones.

“Companies are not accessing the initiatives,” EIC Director Merlin Hyman told edie. “The government needs better marketing for their support schemes. With 173,000 people working in the environment industry we have a good base, but what we need is a strong home market and access to support for companies wishing to export their services.”

The EIC is calling on the government to provide better information and help on identifying foreign contacts and international market opportunities. A dedicated export promoter for the environmental industry could assist UK companies in forging links abroad. “We need someone in government who can network in industry,” says Hyman.

Market leaders like Germany tend to have enforced, stringent environmental regulations requiring companies to look ahead and adopt graduated approaches to meet tighter regulations. “We should be seeking to match the market leaders,” says Hyman.

The EIC report is being fed into the government-backed Innovation and Growth Team initiative. The scheme was launched this spring to promote the future of the UK’s environmental industry.

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