Posted on 15 July 2016
Kent is welcoming a delegation of European business leaders this month to help develop trade links.
The delegation consists of Chambers of Commerce and regional development agencies from France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
As part of the trip, funded by Interreg, a programme to stimulate cooperation between regions in the European Union, delegates visited the county to learn about how Kent County Council and its partners help businesses with exporting.
The two-day trip saw them visit the Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne where they met with AbBaltis, a company that supplies blood plasma to disease-testing firms overseas.
It won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade in 2015.
Like many other companies in Kent, AbBaltis was able to benefit from support to attend an international trade fair as part of a Kent stand.
Whilst in the town, delegates heard from Richard Bond, an international trade adviser from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) South East about the challenges faced by Kent exporters.
KCC’s Trade Development Manager Steve Samson then explained how the Kent International Businesses programme brings together a range of support services to help them. The first day was rounded off with a visit to Shepherd Neame in Faversham where the company explained how its award-winning products are sold to over 35 countries.
The second day was filled with presentations from Rob Lewtas, Strategic Partnership Manager at UKTI on UK Government support for exports and Valérie Pondaven, a business partnership consultant from Enterprise Europe Network on how Kent companies can find business contacts across Europe and beyond.
Head of business development at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Tudor Price spoke on the role of British chambers in helping with export documentation.
Kent County Council officers explained the role of securing external funding for trade development using the ‘GREAT Food from Kent’ project alongside ‘2 Seas Trade’, ‘Innovative Sector Exchange’ and ‘Boost4Health’ as examples.
Global relationship director at HSBC Corporate Banking Iain Hawthorn was also able to represent Kent’s professional services during the visit to highlight the importance of public/private sector co-operation to support exporters.
A final visit to Scarab Sweepers in Marden showcased another of Kent’s flagship international businesses which won a KEiBA award back in 2013 in recognition of its export success.
Return visits by Kent representatives will be made to the delegates’ regions later in the project to see how they support companies and how we can improve what we do in Kent.