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Cristina bangs the drum for UK Exports

Tata Chemicals Europe’s Cristina Velasco undertook her first duty as a UK Government Export Champion by speaking at a roundtable event for aspiring exporters in Liverpool last week.

The ‘Exporting is GREAT’ roadshow truck was at Albert Docks for the event, at which Cristina was joined by Trade Advisers and Export experts from the Department of International Trade. The purpose of the event was to engage SME representatives in discussion about exports, and offer them advice about entering the global marketplace.

Chair of the roundtable meeting Kevin Finucane, International Trade Adviser, said: “In this country, we export more to Ireland than we do to China. Not that Ireland isn’t an important market, but due to the difference in size and scale, that’s embarrassing. So that’s why this truck is travelling the country, banging the drums for exports.

Cristina Velasco, Exports Account Manager at Tata Chemicals Europe, said: “We are pushing really hard for exports outside UK and Ireland, and outside Europe - because that’s where the growth is.”

“Exporting is about mitigating risks. For example, when the recession hit UK and Europe in 2008 and some customers in these countries closed down or reduced their consumption, South America was still booming. The more countries you export to, the more the risk is spread. If something happens in Argentina, that’s not going to affect your market in Thailand.

“But you cannot go into exporting without the right knowledge. As soon as I started at the company I was put on a three day training course. A full day on income terms, letter of credit, etc. It’s very important to be equipped with the right knowledge.”

The Government is aiming to bring in £1 trillion in exports by 2020, which will double our current balance of payments during the current parliament.

Kevin Ledwith, Export Finance Manager with the DIT, said: “It’s not just about Brexit, not just about our balance of payments, we want to encourage companies to export more and perhaps import a little less. There is a lot of manufacturing that goes on in the UK, sometimes people just don’t hear about. We still have big plants, but they’re not the same scale as they used to be.”

However, exporting is not to be taken lightly, and Cristina warns that although it can be done with hard work and patience, you must also seek the right advice to bridge the many cultural differences that you are likely to encounter.

Cristina added: “Reaching out to new customers and entering new markets is a long road. We have just started making business with countries that we began working on two years ago. New markets involve so much work from all departments of the business: customer service, supply chain, commercial, quality. It can be very frustrating if paperwork is rejected, but that’s because everything has to be perfect. For example, in the UK everyone signs in black ink, sometimes if you sign in black ink, they will send it back and ask you to sign it in blue ink! Something as simple as that can cause hold-ups and delays. But we are starting to feel the benefits of all that hard work, so it is very much worth it. Very time consuming and very challenging, but the rewards are very satisfactory.

In many markets, once you get in with a customer, and you provide a good customer service, you have earned their trust. I have been told many times that we are good at customer service in our company, we are customer-focused, and the customers appreciate that. Although export market conditions do rise and fall customers want to trade with us because they appreciate the level of service we provide.”

For more information, search Exporting is Great or visit www.great.gov.uk

To contact Tata Chemicals Europe about our exports or any other sales enquiry, email sales-tcel@tatachemicals.com