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UK Export Academy has sustainability in its sights

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 15 May 2024

A programme of free sustainability-related training during May offers help on dealing with the growing complexity of international trade, particularly for smaller UK-based businesses.

Practical tips on creating a sustainable future for your business is the theme of a series of free training events and masterclasses in May to help UK-based SMEs navigate some of the thornier challenges of expanding overseas. 

Among the topics due to be covered in the programme of virtual events are understanding key legislation such as net zero, the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and environmental, social and governance; advice on navigating EU packaging rules for sending goods overseas; and how to use digital trade documentation.

The  programme comes under the umbrella of the UK Export Academy, an initiative from the Department for Business and Trade to help UK-based SMEs sell their products or services to the world, against a backdrop of complex international trade rules, particularly for smaller businesses.

SMEs account for 50% of all UK business-driven carbon emissions, according to analysis by the British Business Bank. It found that although 57% of smaller businesses say they are aware of the government’s 2050 net-zero target, 76% of smaller businesses have yet to implement a clean growth strategy.

Joining the UK Export Academy is free of charge and offers instant access to live and on-demand recorded events, together with industry-specific training. More than 18,000 businesses across the UK have already joined the training programme. Event presenters are all industry experts looking to share their knowledge to help attendees grow their business in a sustainable way. 

They include George Riddell, Trade Policy and Strategy Director at EY, who will present a masterclass on 21 May on the EU’s CBAM, the tariff for products imported into the EU that are considered carbon intensive. He has already participated in an ICAEW webinar on CBAM challenges. 

Meanwhile, Dr Geoff Mackey, UK Country Manager at trade association Plastics Europe, will demystify the legislation and guidelines around packaging products when selling goods to customers across Europe at a session on the EU Packaging Directive on 23 May.

Supporting the transformation of trade and the economy is one of the five key themes in ICAEW’s 10-year strategy to enable a world of sustainable economies, as well as a key area within the ICAEW Manifesto 2024, which makes policy recommendations for the next government. 

ICAEW’s Manifesto calls for a vision for UK-EU trade in the next parliament. It also asks the next government to expedite projects to improve the administration of importing and exporting, and improve trade promotion by adopting a more targeted approach focused on market-leading service sectors and countries with established relationships.

Alison Ring, ICAEW Director, Public Sector and Taxation, says: “Chartered accountants are often the first port of call for a business looking to export and their expertise can be invaluable for businesses navigating this journey. We are very pleased to support the UK Export Academy training as a way to further empower our members, enabling them to identify sustainable export opportunities and access the resources needed for success.”

ICAEW’s recent Business Confidence Monitor (BCM) highlighted the importance of an export strategy, particularly where there is pressure on domestic sales. As such, Simon Gray, ICAEW Head of Business, says the programme would be an invaluable resource for SMEs. 

“ICAEW members both advise and work in smaller businesses where the need for help in navigating regulation is often the greatest. Unlike larger organisations, SMEs often don’t have in-house expertise or the funding available to hire external expertise. This free resource from the Department for Business and Trade goes some way to redressing this balance.”

To find out more about the events running this month and to sign up free of charge, go to the UK Export Academy website.

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