01/04/2014 02:56 BST | Updated 01/04/2014 02:59 BST

Vince Cable Urges Firms To Export To Save UK Being 'Bit Part Player'

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British Business Secretary Vince Cable stands with the 'Bridget' rover on the Mars Yard at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, England on March 27, 2014. The Mars Yard provides a test bed area for prototype 'Rover' vehicles that may be used to provide data from the surface of the planet Mars. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Firms are being urged to export more goods to help the UK achieve a sustainable economic recovery and stop the country becoming a "bit part player".

Business Secretary Vince Cable will tell an industry conference that the economic outlook is promising, so it is time for business to "step up."

In a speech to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) annual conference, the minister will say there is only so much spare domestic demand that UK businesses can meet.

"If we don't broaden our horizons, we consign ourselves to the certain fate of becoming a marginal, bit-part player in the global economy.

"Yet, despite our best efforts - and those of our partners, like the BCC - there are up to 150,000 UK firms with the potential to export who are failing to exploit the available opportunities.

"This situation cannot persist. Far better that we seek to export out of aspiration, rather than desperation, starting now, not when the gap to our international competitors is even harder to close.

"My challenge to BCC members is to increase their risk appetite: for non-exporters to get in the game, and for existing exporters to explore new markets."

Cable will say that as other European economies showed signs of recovery, and with the prospect of major EU trade deals in the offing with Japan and the US, the time had come for forward-looking firms to stake a claim to overseas markets, adding: "That may not have been appropriate in the immediate aftermath of the global banking crisis. It is now."

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