LATEST regional export statistics has been welcomed by international trade expert Mark Robson as offering “a solid foundation to build on”.

Trade in goods statistics released by HM Revenue & Customs reveal that total exports for the Yorkshire region were worth £4.21bn for the first quarter of 2013 – up from £4.13bn in the final quarter of 2012 and £4.15bn for the same period last year.

The figures also reveal growth in emerging economies in Eastern Europe – where exports were valued at £70m for the first quarter – as well as increases in the beleaguered European Union.

Other global regions saw a decline in export values, but Mr Robson, regional director for UK Trade & Investment, remains upbeat.

He said: “All growth should be welcomed and it is encouraging to see that 2013 got off to a decent start.

“It gives us a solid foundation to build on in the months ahead as businesses increasingly look overseas to drive sales away from the domestic UK market.

“There is growing awareness that the global marketplace is alive with opportunity for companies of every shape and size.

“The value of exports to emerging Eastern Europe supports this and is especially pleasing to see.”

Mr Robson said: “We have the skills, products, services and expertise as a region to capitalise on international opportunities and it would be great to see similar growth in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere.”

The HMRC statistics show that machinery and transport equipment, mineral fuels and manufactured goods remain the key export commodities for Yorkshire and the Humber, with America, France and Germany the top three markets.

UKTI Yorkshire and the Humber is currently supporting a pilot campaign to spread the simple message that “Exporting is GREAT”.

Local businesses are being offered access to grants and assistance and/or an opportunity to meet one-to-one with an expert trade advisor.

The activity is part of a concerted push by Trade & Investment Minister Lord Green to increase the number of British companies that export by a quarter, and double UK exports to £1 trillion a year by 2020.

Mr Robson said: “Enabling more businesses to export is crucial for Britain and helps to spread sustainable growth across the regions.

“We want to reach the many SMEs across Yorkshire and the Humber who are ready to sell abroad, but have yet to take the plunge.

“There is clearly scope to do more and the UKTI team is primed and waiting to help new exporters, as well as those looking to expand and seek out new international customers.”

Visit www.ukti.gov.uk to find out more about regional UKTI events, support and services.