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E-CTC urges better online trade support for UK small businesses
Tue, 5th Dec 2023

An industry-led trade commission, the E-Commerce Trade Commission (E-CTC), is stressing the urgent need for upgraded online trade backing for small commercial enterprises as part of an effort to encourage more small UK businesses to export online. The move comes ahead of Small Business Saturday, a crucial period for the sector, and aims to tap into potential annual revenues of up to 950,000 through online exports.

The E-CTC, an alliance of leading eCommerce platforms that includes Amazon, Shopify and Etsy, works directly with the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). The commission noted that small businesses are currently not receiving adequate support to enable growth via online exporting. It's inaugural evidence session revealed that significant barriers include difficulty in accessing help and advice, and in obtaining crucial information such as how to get an Import One Stop Shop number. This number is necessary to prove that all VAT has been paid on products being sold to the EU.

"Small business owners in the UK have told us that they are struggling to find the support they need. These are businesses which want to grow by expanding into new markets, and who want to take advantage of the new free trade deals the UK has been securing," explains Marco Forgione, the Director General at the Institute of Export & International Trade and Chair of the E-CTC.

Forgione continues by stating: "Clear information and ease of access to educational support – both online and in-person – are crucial yet simple steps we can take to help our small businesses thrive". He raises the point that the UK’s small business sector is a significant source of national pride and that through e-commerce, small retailers’ revenue could be improved by hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The E-CTC, which was founded in June 2023 and wishes to encourage 70,000 more small British businesses to export online by 2025, hopes to stimulate the UK's economy by £9.3 billion. They aim to enhance comprehension of international trade and offer policy recommendations to rectify the challenges that small businesses confront.

The Institute of Export & International Trade, Department for Business and Trade, Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Google and Shopify are members included in the Commission, together with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Association of International Courier & Express Services (AICES).