Speakers at the South Yorkshire International Trade Conference (held at the OEC, Sheffield on July 3) were universal in saying that South Yorkshire businesses are well placed to take advantage of a changing trade landscape, but we need to be bolder at seizing those opportunities.

Hosted by Nick Patrick and organised by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s Sheffield International Trade Centre, in collaboration with the South Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce (Barnsley & Rotherham and Doncaster), the conference included speakers from a host of trade organisations who all celebrated the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

Head of Sheffield Chamber, Louisa Harrison-Walker kicked things off with these words: “We are much stronger when we work together as a region and it’s time to move on from the scarcity mindset. The chambers are playing a pivotal role in that with things like the local skills improvement plan. We should all be celebrating each other’s wins rather than being in competition.”

These views were echoed by SYMCA’s (South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority) Tom Bousfield and he was confident that the region was well-placed to take advantage of the growing economies of ed tech, med tech and clean tech.

“These will be three of the most important sectors going forward and as a region we are well placed already. We can be optimistic about the chances for growth but there will be challenges. As a region we need to export more; those that do already need to do it more and those that don’t, need to start! Our export income is very modest compared to other regions of the country.”

Meanwhile, William Bain, representing the British Chamber of Commerce could see an incoming Labour government would mean that there were new opportunities in terms of a potentially closer relationship with the EU but cautioned that while service exports were rising by over 60%, goods were rising in single figures and that was something that needed to be addressed.

As well as dedicated speakers and a panel discussion, the second annual conference featured a dedicated exhibition area to feature organisations who have products and services that already reach the international trade market, promoting the benefits of International Trade, collaboration, and economic growth within the region.

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