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We spoke to one of our expert international trade managers, Koyas Miah, to find out more about his role and what support the international trade team provides here at Suffolk Chamber.

Hi Koyas, thanks for speaking to us. Can you tell us a bit about your role?

The world of trade is changing, fresh markets are emerging, greener sustainable goods and services are being developed. Suffolk Chamber International is a key part of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. As one of the Suffolk Chamber’s international trade managers (funded with the support of Suffolk Public Sector Leaders) we support, advise and offer guidance and training to Suffolk businesses trading internationally or are contemplating in doing so, as well as working with Suffolk businesses to put them in the best place to maximise new trading opportunities.

What does it involve?

We get involved in almost all aspects of international trade, however here are a few:

  • Export Readiness: Assessing the readiness of a company’s export capabilities as they explore new global opportunities. Working with the business we help identify areas of consideration in developing their business plan as well as offering businesses support with export/import strategy planning which can help manage business risks.
  • Market Access:  Using our connections with the Global Business Network of International Chambers, government agencies and Embassies in over 75 key international markets, we help Suffolk businesses with international B2B connections, support services and solutions, and offer practical advice about the local business environment and potential market opportunities.
  • Trade Policy: Working with all businesses and sectors in Suffolk we provide free and impartial guidance, advice and information to help businesses navigate their future trading relationship with Europe and to maximise the opportunities to be gained from global trade as the UK negotiates new free trade agreements (FTAs).
  • Suffolk Chamber International Trade GroupWe recognise the wealth of knowledge and experience that exists in the county and how valuable peer to peer networking can be for businesses. Suffolk Chamber International Trade Group (SITG) provides a forum for businesses in sharing best practice, and hearing from local and national policymakers and thought leaders.
  • International Training Courses: As businesses develop their international activities, we help businesses with a wide range of training solutions to unlock their international trade potential and support and upskill their teams.

Why would you recommend a business joins Suffolk Chamber?

Suffolk Chamber is coming up to its 140 year anniversary, for any organisation to last this long it must be doing something right! As an organisation Suffolk Chamber is always evolving with time and to suit member needs.

Suffolk Chamber provides business advice, connections, referrals and a sounding board. If you are looking to take on a bigger challenge or expand your reach, the Chamber can be a supportive environment. Businesses can get access to international clients, market expertise and global opportunities and international business advice and guidance.

Suffolk Chamber can give your business the power of a united voice for the business community. And most of all, it gives businesses the opportunity to learn, grow and connect.

Can you share any stories or examples of how your team has supported a growing Suffolk business recently?

We were contacted by a Suffolk based business looking to expand and enter the US market.  They have limited experience of trading internationally but their product range is certified by the global standard setter, based in the USA and they have found a reputable contact who is willing to promote and sell their products in the US.

We provided guidance on determining the correct mark segment to focus on and how to promote their product range; how to place their products on the market including weighing up the benefits of the agent/distributor model; deciding on which geographical regions to target and being made aware of the opportunities stemming from recent trade MoU’s signed with individual US States; and understanding Federal and State wide regulatory, tax and conformity assessment requirements.  We are continuing to work with the business to meet its end goal.

What are the challenges faced by Suffolk SME’s when trading globally?

International trade is a growing and challenging market which can bring many advantages to Suffolk businesses from increased revenues to better risk management. It is also known that companies that export become 34% more productive within the first year and 11% more likely to survive.

The challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit has put a strain on Suffolk businesses. Exporting plays an important role in building the county’s economy and can help businesses manage risks by trading in domestic and global markets. Research in this field has suggested that businesses that do not sell products and services overseas are putting themselves at a major disadvantage from their competitors and that global economic changes have brought challenges and opportunities for SME’s.

Businesses can be deferred by false assumption about what it means to trade internationally and can fail at the first hurdle by thinking that importing and exporting is not suitable for them. Our recent research project found that SME’s who are already trading globally are not facing many challenges. Therefore, having a clear understanding of the processes and practicalities of international trade can broaden business awareness to explore the potential opportunities available in the global markets.

What have you found most interesting about working with businesses in Suffolk?

The diversity of businesses and their pragmatic approach.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given that you’d like to pass on?

Invest in yourself. Whether it’s upskilling or wellbeing you are the driver.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Where is your happy place in Suffolk?

There are so many places, hard to choose one. But more recently I would say Christchurch Park in Ipswich, the kids love it there.

Find out more about our international trade team here.

About the author

Suffolk Chamber

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