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Julie Underwood's report on Atlanta mission in Journal column


Uk plc is very much open for business

Two weeks ago I was in Atlanta on a trade mission with inspirational and innovative North East businesses looking to expand their companies with new marketplaces.

Organised in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT), these regular overseas missions are so important, particularly at present, with the eyes of the world on us and our future international trading relationships.
We need to stress UK plc is very much open for business.
Brexit uncertainty is damaging for our regional economy so it was a welcome breath of fresh air to get out onto the world stage and see a clear path to market for companies. We know all our tariffs and trading arrangements with the US and there is no clock ticking for potential changes to them.
On our visit to Atlanta were a number of Chamber members including Grid Smarter Cities, which offers a technical solution to city gridlock by planning for kerb-side deliveries and also cutting down carbon emissions.
The focus of the visit was our growing tech sector in the region and this company is a great example of innovative thinking and entrepreneurial nous.
While we were in America we also had the chance to meet a number of technology companies to learn from their own experiences and identify future opportunities for building relationships.
The support of two of our major employers in the region was also invaluable with both Womble Bond Dickinson and Sage plc giving us access to their team and offices in Atlanta. I’m sure it was really beneficial to everyone on the mission to also get a real sense of having a home away from home thanks to their hospitality.
DIT has a marketing strapline which says Exporting is Great and trips like last week’s visit show that is definitely can be, given the right preparation. Make no mistake, trade missions are hard work and require twice as much planning as a major family holiday but the rewards are definitely there.
We ensured there were one to one meetings with American businesses and, like our previous mission to Boston in December, there will definitely be positive follow-ups to these introductions.
In the tech and marketing sector in particular we have a great reputation overseas. Our list of trade missions for the coming year is currently being developed and I urge everyone to look out for it on the Chamber web site. There is literally a whole world of opportunity out there.