Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] — Trade, Exports, Innovation and Productivity

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:03 pm on 13th January 2016.

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Photo of Amanda Milling Amanda Milling Conservative, Cannock Chase 3:03 pm, 13th January 2016

The point I was trying to make is that we want to increase exports. I will highlight a few points relating to that.

The productivity plan outlines several measures that will help meet that target, including building stronger links with emerging markets, especially China, India and Brazil. The plan also sets out a range of funds and initiatives designed to promote and encourage exporting. Let me echo the point that my hon. Friend the Member for The Cotswolds made about extending the tradeshow access programme.

Based on ATP’s experience of exporting, I want to raise a number of other issues and challenges faced by exporters that I would like the Minister to consider. They fall into three key categories—uncertainty, red tape and competitiveness—each of which presents real obstacles and barriers to exporting.

Uncertainty comes about partly because of currency markets, but the particular issue I want to focus on is that of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs impounding shipments for random checks. That can make it really difficult, both from an importing and exporting perspective, when a “just in time” ordering mentality is commonplace. Are there ways in which we can balance the understandable need to monitor shipments and at the same time provide more certainty to firms that are importing and exporting?

Businesses, both in the UK and abroad, regularly refer to the issue of red tape. I welcome the Government’s commitment to cut £10 billion of red tape, to back British business and put resources to more productive use. Customs warehousing is a facility for importers to delay duty and import VAT payments until the goods leave the customs warehousing facility or enter another customs procedure. According to ATP, it is an excellent service for importing parts, but the red tape associated with it is cumbersome. As such, ATP no longer uses the facility, as the amount of paperwork outweighs the benefits. That means that an excellent facility is underutilised. Will the Minister therefore review the facility and consider ways in which the paperwork could be reduced and simplified so that it can be used by SMEs, which have less capacity to deal with red tape than larger organisations?