THE BLOG
04/10/2013 13:05 BST | Updated 04/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Having Backed Export, David Cameron Now Needs to Skipper British Sales Message

The government at the Conservative Party conference has made the case this week that Britain's industrial strategy rests on a massive revival of its export base.

As the Prime Minister said in his speech today: "Exports to China are up. Exports to Brazil are up. Exports to India, Russia, Thailand, South Korea, Australia - all up."

Put it like this, it's a commercial opportunity not only for Liverpool but for the nation, that every ship that brings imports up the Mersey should be sent back with British exports. That's what the future should look like.

David Cameron also made the point that more than 4,000 cars are rolling off the UK production line every day, ready for export. This is the manufacturing engine Britain badly needs, but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it's not just about making, it's also about selling. That's the message business should be taking away - Made In Britain, sold in Britain, exported from Britain.

It's why Liverpool is hosting the International Festival for Business next year to showcase British knowledge, expertise and product to the world. It will be 50 days of the very best that the UK has to offer and will provide a showcase for the UK sales message. Not since the Festival of Britain of 1951 will Britain have staged a commercial event of such massive ambition.

It's a central part of the government's plans to rebalance the economy to ensure that British cities play their parts in the economic recovery and earn the rewards from doing so.

A grand ambition perhaps, but one that will mean grass-root commercial opportunities for businesses all over the country.

Not enough firms realise that global trade is a very real commercial opportunity. From start-ups to medium sized enterprises, the UK economy has the opportunity to grow if it looks beyond its own shores.

That's a story that Liverpool knows more than most. It's a city, like the country, that is emerging from the economic downturn. It's a city that is paving the way for recovery - a port city, a trading city, and an entrepreneurial city. It's a city born to trade.

The country needs cities like Liverpool to provide the engine room for recovery. That means a complete redoubling of the national sales message.

The downturn has been a leveller for a great many nations but it's not the knocking down that defines you, it's the getting back up.

Having celebrated the upsurge in British exports in today's speech, the Prime Minister now needs to make a commitment to match the UK's trading ambition with a sales and marketing plan to realise it.

With the International Festival for Business we have a showcase for Britain's jewels and an exemplar of what Britain can and must do to sell its message to the world as a high-value manufacturing destination.

If Britain wants to back recovery then it means lining up behind cities like Liverpool to achieve it.

If Sir Ben Ainslie's America's Cup turn around triumph proves one thing it is that a skilled skipper can plot a course to victory.

It's a fiercely urgent moment and Britain needs a message that puts the wind back in the sales of its exporting businesses. The opportunity is there to flood the world's shipping lanes with British products and sail boldly forth with an ambitious export strategy.

Prime Minister, work with us to ensure that we don't miss the boat.

Max Steinberg CBE is CEO of Liverpool Vision and chairman of the International Festival for Business 2014