Cornwall's exports 'lagging behind' rest of the country

The number of products exported from Cornwall is "lagging behind" the rest of England, an expert has said.

Dr Colin Piper, an adviser for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), a government organisation, said it was because the prospect of exporting could be "scary".

The county has 21,000 businesses, but £7m made in export revenue in 2008 dropped by 2.6% the following year.

Dr Piper said companies should seek advice and engage with programmes to learn about potential new markets.

The international trade adviser said: "I think the South West as a whole generally just lags behind the rest of the country in terms of the number of companies that do export.

'Growing so quickly'

"Of course we have a lot of smaller companies down here compared to some other parts of the country, which means sometimes exporting can be seen to be a scary process."

Dr Piper said the best way to encourage businesses was "through communication, through assisting some of the companies to go overseas and help them sort out which market they should go to.

"Having been there, hopefully we've got a little bit of credibility and so we can go in and say 'have you thought of this'?"

Jonathan Jones, from the Tregothnan Estate on the Roseland Peninsula, which exports tea, said there was interest overseas in Cornish products "but if you don't know the rules you can waste a huge amount of time".

Teagle Machinery, which makes farm machinery and supplies companies in North America and Russia, said more could be done to help companies.

John Cox, production director, said: "There are several schemes the government would have you think are in place to benefit business but there are normally quite a lot of hoops that have got to be jumped through.

"We are in a market that is growing so quickly we just cannot wait for that to happen, so sometimes we need, as a business, to make that decision and act on it immediately."

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