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‘Optimistic’ UKFT lobbies for 2016 trade show grants

The UK Fashion & Textile Association is “quietly optimistic” that businesses looking to expand internationally by attending overseas trade shows next year will receive adequate government funding.

It comes after the Tradeshow Access Programme grant scheme, which is provided by UK Trade & Investment to support small exporters, was slashed by about £1m for the fourth quarter of the financial year to April.

Intense negotiations followed to ensure trade associations could still support businesses to exhibit at shows such as Panorama and Seek in Berlin and Who’s Next in Paris.

Attention is now turning to the 2016 allocation. Chancellor George Osborne pledged a £45m package to boost exports in his 2014 Autumn Statement, including extra funding for the UKTI – and the UKFT wants a share to go to the TAP programme.

“I’d be surprised if we didn’t get it, because ministers are sensitised to the scheme’s impact,” said UKFT director of international business development Paul Alger. “We had a positive meeting with the prime minister’s office before Christmas; they are committed to working with trade associations.

“The political conversations have been much more positive than I dared hope. I’m still concerned, but quietly optimistic that the message has got through.”

The allocation for the first half of 2016 is likely to be announced by the end of March.

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