Ruth Graham from Danske Bank talks about trade and export opportunities on offer to businesses
Why has Danske Bank chosen to sponsor the Excellence in Exporting award?
As a bank, we have been providing industry-leading technology and support for businesses in Northern Ireland for over 200 years.
We are committed to helping aspiring and experienced exporters achieve their full potential and are proud to support some of Northern Ireland's leading exporters.
We've seen how these dynamic companies have reaped the rewards of exporting to new markets and by sponsoring the Excellence in Exporting awards, we want to encourage other local companies to do the same. It's a chance to applaud examples of best practice and encourage other businesses that are considering an export strategy to see the benefits and take the next step.
Can an organisation thrive in the current climate without an export focus?
Local demand will always remain a key part of any business strategy.
However, the landscape for products and services manufactured in Northern Ireland has changed so much and there is a diverse range of opportunities available to businesses by expanding into new markets. Diversifying into export markets is a sound strategy for long-term, sustainable growth.
How does Danske Bank support export in the Northern Ireland economy?
We have a full range of support for businesses in Northern Ireland that are looking to export, including trade finance, asset finance, invoice finance, merchant acquiring, cash management, foreign exchange and interest rate hedging products, and money market deposits.
We were the first local bank to back the UK Export Finance's new bond support scheme, to help mitigate credit risks for exporting businesses. Through platforms such as Markets Online and our trade finance tools, we have demonstrated our willingness to continually enhance our offer to new and experienced exporters.
Yet it isn't just through our products that we're helping to support export. As the principal partner in Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce's Danske Bank Export First programme, our business managers give advice and support to those with specific queries about their export finance requirements. We grow when our customers do – that's why we think it's important for us to work closely with businesses making plans for export.
What does Danske Bank think of the present economic climate?
Conditions remain challenging for businesses across Northern Ireland, and in the UK as a whole. In general, growth for 2013 is predicted to be modest. However, the broad picture can obscure the fact that there are many excellent trading businesses here that we are keen to support and develop.
Although the BRIC (Brazil, Russia India and China) economies have been sluggish of late, there are signs that they may be returning to more robust growth.
Two of our biggest export markets – the eurozone and the US – have shown signs of improvement in the past number of months.
A firmer footing for global growth – combined with the recent fall in sterling, which makes our exporters cheaper – would bode well for our exporters in 2013.
How has Danske Bank progressed or changed in recent times? What areas of the practice have experienced growth?
The past year has been a very exciting one for Danske Bank – we changed our trading name from Northern Bank in November, taking on the name of our parent company. It's a reflection of our strong international outlook and our commitment to Northern Ireland.
In terms of growth, we're proud to say that one in three businesses in Northern Ireland now bank with Danske Bank.
Our dedicated teams of local business specialists have years of experience in supporting and developing businesses, and they are on hand to provide guidance for local firms. By continually investing in our technology, we aim to ensure a seamless experience for our customers and it's paying dividends in terms of the new business we're attracting.
Are awards like the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards important in difficult economic times?
Yes – in tough times recognition and signals of quality are more important than ever and that's why we're proud to sponsor these awards.
When you're competing to win new orders and contracts, showing that your business is first-in-class is a real advantage.
Businesses can use awards like this as a signal of quality when introducing themselves to new contacts, and as something to strengthen existing relationships.
It also provides an opportunity for entrants to assess their strengths, and actively encourages them to think strategically about how to sell their achievements.
Ruth Graham is head of trade and export finance at Danske Bank
Belfast Telegraph Business Awards
Closing date for entries: Thursday February 28 2013
Link: www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business-awards (for entry form)
Event: Wednesday April 17 – Culloden Hotel
Tickets: £100+vat or Table of 10 £900 + Vat
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