The Department for International Trade (DIT) North West has included Tata Chemicals Europe in its list of North West Export Champions 2017. The responsibility of the Export Champions is to spread the word about the benefits of international trade. Exports Account Manager Cristina Velasco will represent Tata Chemicals Europe at official events, with a full 2017 calendar announced soon.
Cristina’s year as an Export Champion will begin this Friday (24th February) when she gives a presentation to delegates and guests at the Export Champion Hub in Liverpool. We caught up for a chat ahead of her first appearance.
Cris said: “I’ll be giving a 30 minute presentation introducing myself and Tata Chemicals Europe, and what we do when it comes to exports, as well as any success stories or barriers we’ve encountered, and talk about the things that companies need to watch out for”.
Following Cris’ presentation, there will be a question-and-answer panel session, giving the audience a chance to seek advice from Cristina and the other Export Champions.
Cris added: “They might see that their company is similar to ours and they want to ask for advice. Or perhaps I will have mentioned something that is similar to something that they are looking at– maybe if I mention letter of credits they might want to ask me more about that.”
The session will be a taster of what’s to come in 2017 from the Department of International Trade. In Liverpool this July, they will be hosting a week-long exhibition for businesses that are looking into exporting for the first time. Cristina said: “It’s for people and companies who want to grow in exports. The aim of the North West Export Champions initiative is to help companies on their journey, guide them, and let them know what to watch out for, but most of all to encourage them.”
Our company, and Cristina in particular, has been chosen due to recent success and growth in the Rest of the World bicarb markets. Cristina said: “For example, our competitor in Australia closed down, and since then we’ve been able to reach many new countries all around Asia and Oceania. We’ve entered new markets in new countries, and also new markets in countries we were already selling into – so if we were in the pharma industry, we entered the food industry and so on. We are really pushing exports now. In bicarb, for example, the ROW pharma and haemo sectors are growing. We want to grow in those high-value sectors.”
Working with the UK Government is something that is of great value to any company, and Cristina certainly understands the importance of gaining their Export Champion seal of approval. She added: ”It’s great to be involved with the Government, making connections with other companies, and it will give us exposure. It will also be a good thing internally now that we are pushing for exports: what better way to promote exports than to be named an Export Champion.”
“The Government can help in many ways, such as Trade Missions to different countries, led by politicians and civil servants where they invite you along, and then you have access to the embassies in the countries and different companies there, allowing you to get the right contacts and promote your company.
“Some countries can be very easy to trade into; a company can just place an order straight away. But for some countries we have spent more than two years trying to sell into them. We have to check with the banks and the Government that we can export there, and then we have to register our product in that country, which can take months and in some cases years of paperwork and effort.”
Bev Mullin from the Department of International Trade said: "As a region, we need to sell more products and services overseas, and we are determined to encourage and support as many companies as possible to take up the export challenge. We know that companies are enthused and inspired by their peers, so your success stories are hugely influential".
Exporting into a new market can be a complicated endeavour, with many things for a company to consider. Fluctuating commodity prices and exchange rates are one huge consideration, especially at the moment due to the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union. Cristina said: “I can’t speak for the European market, but for the rest of the world, I have had many more enquiries because the pound is low. We have to think about exchange rates all the time, not only with the Dollar and the Euro, but also with the currencies in the different countries against the currencies we sell into, and versus the currencies of our competitors. In the past, I couldn’t enter markets because of exchange rate differences”.
Cristina remains optimistic for the future, and wants to help companies with similar aspirations replicate the success of Tata Chemicals Europe. She said: “I would like for our exports to be considered just as important as the UK market. It’s a good thing for the company and it’s a good thing for the country.”