Thursday, 9 August 2012

West Briton Column 9 August 2012

Whatever the final tally of Olympic medals, this week will stand out as a celebration of British sporting skills and values, and of our sportswomen in particular. It’s great to see Cornwall’s contribution to the Games, from the achievements of athletes like Helen Glover and Ben Ainslie, to the Cornish tin used to forge the bronze medals.

Let's hope part of the legacy of the London Olympic Games is for the media to cover more women's sport. For far too long the vast majority of coverage has been of our much loved but predominantly male colleagues.

At the same time what a great celebration of the British tradition of volunteering. From the opening ceremony and magnificent role of thousands of artists and musicians to those, including a small army from Cornwall, who are welcoming people to London and the Olympic Park.

This week the regattas, carnivals and many creative activities that make Falmouth Week such a highlight of the year, and not just for sailors, will also depend on many volunteers who work very hard to help us all celebrate the great place we live.

Cornwall’s zeal for volunteering crosses the generations, the National Citizenship Service  
is going from strength to strength in Cornwall. I look forward to meeting with some of these young volunteers next week in Truro.
Building on the very positive attitude that most people have of Britain around the world, I am keen to encourage more Cornish businesses to export goods and services. We have some first class local success stories of firms who are growing as a result of exporting but overall Cornwall is doing less well that other  parts of the UK.

That's why last week I was delighted to join over 90 businesses at an event at Truro College to highlight the help that is available to businesses in Cornwall that want to start exporting or want to try new markets. A range of technical expertise and practical help is available from Export Cornwall and the UKTI. About half of the exports from Cornwall go to the USA and the EU. While these markets will continue to be important, the real growth potential lies in the faster growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Why do I think it is important for Cornish companies to export to these fast growing markets? Our economy needs to grow in a sustainable way so we can create new jobs. Skilled and well paid jobs. We need to rebalance our economy from dependency on financial services in the SE of England. All around the UK we need to produce more of our food and energy and make more goods and services for ourselves and to export. Sustainable growth will come from exporting more. Jobs will be created in those businesses that succeed.

At the moment only one in five UK companies exports. With encouragement and support if one in four companies exported, 100,000 jobs would be created and our trade deficit would be eradicated.

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