International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch
Innovative E-Commerce Trade Commission to drive £9.3bn SME export growth. Niklas HALLE'N/Reuters

On June 13, the United Kingdom took a significant step in establishing its first E-Commerce Trade Commission.

This initiative aims to empower an additional 70,000 small British businesses to engage in online trade and expand their exports, resulting in a remarkable £9.3 billion economic growth. Comprising prominent industry professionals, the commission will serve as a vital advisory body to the Department for Business and Trade (DBT).

With the primary objective of assisting small British businesses, which serve as the backbone of the nation's economy, the commission will provide guidance on using e-commerce opportunities and maximising the benefits of recently concluded trade agreements.

Spearheaded by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), the premier membership organisation for companies involved in international trade, the commission will be led by its Director-General, Marco Forgione.

During the commission's official launch event, Marco Forgione, Chair of the Commission and Director-General of the IOE&IT, expressed the significance of this rare opportunity to implement measures that truly benefit small British firms during a crucial period for the UK.

With a rising trend of consumers purchasing goods online and the government signing trade agreements with e-commerce provisions, Forgione emphasised the economic importance of international trade in addressing current economic and social challenges.

The release stated that the commission's board comprises representatives from some of the world's largest e-commerce platforms, including Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Google and Shopify. Additionally, organisations such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Association of International Courier & Express Services (AICES) are among its members.

On June 13, the commission convened its inaugural board meeting at County Hall in London, marking the official commencement of its operations. The Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP, Secretary of State for Business & Trade, graced the event with a keynote address. She engaged directly with business leaders to explore the most effective ways to support British businesses in pursuing e-commerce-driven export opportunities.

In her remarks, Secretary of State, Kemi Badenoch, mentioned her clear priority of increasing UK exports to a trillion pounds by 2030. She highlighted the potential achievement of this ambitious goal by assisting more UK businesses in conducting online commerce, reducing trade barriers and securing access to new markets. Badenoch cited the recently implemented free trade agreement with Australia as an illustrative example of progress.

The Secretary of State stressed the need to shift the discourse surrounding exporting, focusing on the innovative opportunities available to businesses, ongoing efforts to enhance international trade and the transformation of perceptions about exporting. With the UK boasting the fourth-largest e-commerce market globally and the most developed in Europe, she emphasised that the new e-commerce and trade commission would bring government and industry together to propose tangible enhancements that promote UK e-commerce trade.

The Secretary of State was accompanied by the newly appointed Exports Minister, Lord Offord, who delivered his first public speech since taking office. He emphasised the importance of exports, noting that exporting businesses typically enjoy better margins, increased productivity and higher wages. With several pretty intriguing nations, including Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, he noted that they recently signed a new agreement known as the CPTPP, as a significant opportunity for UK SMEs

According to Lord Offord, they have the fastest-growing middle class, and all of their customers want to purchase goods created in Britain, so the ministry must assist SMEs in reaching this market. He said the Department for Business and Trade provides a toolbox of assistance to help accomplish this, including international consultations, reliable partners like distributors or potential customers and financial assistance.

The newly appointed Exports Minister further stated that the ministry can help businesses export to these intriguing new markets regardless of where they are located, even if they are in a remote area of Scotland's Highlands. Offord of Garvel, Lord.

Following recommendations from a 2022 research by the Social Market Foundation, which was commissioned by Amazon and funded by the IOE&IT and examined the condition of UK e-commerce, the unique independent cross-body Commission was established. The research revealed substantial untapped potential that, if realised, could lead to an additional 70,000 small British firms engaging in exports, resulting in a £9.3 billion increase in gross value added (GVA).

Furthermore, the study demonstrated that retail companies engaging in e-commerce exports generate an average of £100,000 annually, with businesses employing over 10 individuals earning around £950,000 on average.