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Business Festival brings in £600m boost

The Business Desk

A major international business festival hosted in Liverpool has boosted UK trade and investment by £600m.

The economic windfall has been provided thanks to the biennial International Business Festival, staged in 2014 and 2016, which has attracted 31,000 visitors from 98 countries, with large delegations from the US, India and China.

The festival – backed by central government through the Department for International Trade – is aimed at small and medium-sized companies.

In 2016, sales valued at £250m were agreed at the festival with some 500 UK companies securing exports worth in excess of £87m.

Figures were revealed in an independent analysis published with a year to go before Liverpool hosts the 2018 event.

Brian Wilkins of blast-proof security blind manufacturers Abbey Group said: “In the 12 months since we took part in the festival we have significantly advanced our global profile – working towards high-value deals with prospective buyers in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. As a direct consequence of the connections we made in 2016, we are now planning to expand our business and take on additional employees.”

Michelle Billington of independent movie studio Foot in the Door Films said: “We estimate deals agreed at the festival will bring investment of between £2 to £30m over the next three to five years.”

Next year’s event, which will take place with Brexit talks in full swing, will cement the UK’s position as one of the global leaders in free trade and investment, in a city renowned as an export gateway.

Organisers predict that the total value of deals over the three festivals will reach £1bn, boosted by the trade and investment from the 2018 event.

The upbeat forecast came as they unveiled details of the 2018 festival, which will be held over nine days in June next year at the 80,000 square foot Exhibition Centre Liverpool with HSBC as lead sponsor.

Max Steinberg, chair of the 2018 International Business Festival, said: “As the world’s biggest business festival we have an outstanding track record for helping business to upscale and realise their potential.  The festival is designed to appeal to a broad audience from start-ups to SMEs and innovators to major corporations. We help businesses meet buyers and suppliers, developing partnerships and signing deals. This is the third festival and it promises to be better than ever.”

Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking for HSBC UK, said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and for many there is an appetite to grow their business through exporting.  For those worrying about having a lack of exporting experience the International Business Festival brings SMEs together with experts to explore opportunities.  We’re looking forward to joining the UK’s most exciting young businesses eager to discover the international markets available to them.”

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