THINK export, and your domestic operation will become slicker and more efficient, according to former CBI chief and business Minister Lord Digby Jones, now Chairman of HSBC s International Business Advisory Board, who will be the keynote speaker at a majo

THINK export, and your domestic operation will become slicker and more efficient, according to former CBI chief and business Minister Lord Digby Jones, now Chairman of HSBC's International Business Advisory Board, who will be the keynote speaker at a major East of England conference on overseas trade next month.

Called 'Global Opportunity', the conference will hear how Lord Digby Jones passionately believes that, if the UK is going to pull itself out of recession, it is going to have to grow its overseas trade, and that SMEs in particular need to look to increase their export competitiveness.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Lord Digby Jones said: "It has never been more important for all businesses, and in particular smaller firms, to follow an export development strategy. Exposing your business to overseas competition makes you more productive, more competitive and more innovative. The domestic gains from exporting overseas are quickly realised."

He advised: "Seek guidance, dip your toe in the water of a country where you feel comfortable and be prepared for a long haul."

Lord Digby Jones also has firm views on manufacturing and is positive about the UK's role on the world stage: "Over 85 per cent of the UK's exports are manufactured goods. We are still a massive exporter of cars; around half of every Airbus that flies is made in Britain; we are a major pharmaceutical manufacturer; our food and drink manufacturing is a major export around the world. Defence and security equipment, electrical equipment, medical kit; you name it, if it's at the value-added end of the market and not commodity, and sells on knowledge-application and not just price, if it's innovative and has brand quality, then the UK makes it, sells it around the world and earns Britain her way."

INFORMATION: 'Global Opportunity' is being held at Newmarket Racecourse on November 19, organised by East of England International, which works on behalf of UK Trade & Investment to help companies across the region exploit overseas markets. Tickets cost £50, which includes refreshments and lunch. To register visit www.eei-online.com/globalopportunity or call 08456 419955.