COBCOE is an independent, not for profit organisation representing British chambers of commerce and business associations throughout Europe. Acting as an umbrella organisation, we work with our members to advance international trade and business.
COBCOE was founded, and continues to operate, with a clear aim: to protect and promote the collective interests of our members, and their business members, through united representation, cooperation and trade stimulation.
COBCOE offers a platform for trade and investment support, commercial services and guidance for best practice in business. Our core membership of over 40 member chambers in Europe, represents around 8,000 business members.
A further 50 chambers of commerce and business associations in the UK and around the world are affiliates. This global network provides access to local market expertise and assists in building the local relationships and stakeholder engagement that helps businesses to succeed.
Business needs to be fluid, connected and transparent. We advocate the benefits of properly linked commerce and seek to promote efficiency through opening untapped markets to members and stakeholders, expediting transactions, aiding with relationship building by putting key decision makers together, and providing access to multi-lateral connections.
Our network and its operations aim to maintain the highest standards of ethics and professional standards. Members are encouraged to undergo accreditation, comply with quality benchmarks and participate in programmes of continuous improvement.
The following special programmes and initiatives are successfully leveraging COBCOE’s network, and now promoting its benefits beyond Europe: Make Europe Work!® aims to help businesses benefit from opportunities for international trade and investment.
It takes a practical and pragmatic approach by harnessing the considerable support available through the network of COBCOE member chambers of commerce, affiliate chambers and corporate partners.
With the growing focus on international trade and investment, and our expanding network of British bilateral chambers of commerce and partners, we are ideally placed to take up the mantel for the promotion of international trade and investment across Europe and beyond. Make Europe Work!® was launched in 2014 to give businesses the information, help and support that can be of real value to them.
The initiative draws on the experience and expertise of the COBCOE network to combine practical assistance with knowledge sharing, in which this publication and Make Europe Work!® events play a key role.
The Evolving Europe Thought Leadership Project aims to establish how to build, maintain and export European competitive advantage as a global trade bloc by publishing a white paper to outline proposed measures needed to achieve this. The Thought Leadership team comprises European businesses, manufacturing bases and influential services organisations supporting industry.
MAKING THE LEAP: BUSINESS ADVICE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS/ENTREPRENEURS ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND EXPORTING
By Chris Heyes, Head of International at International Festival for Business 2016
We are told on a daily basis that UK business needs to export more. We know that the single market in the EU offers huge opportunities for expanding revenues. We can see from the UK Government’s activity that overseas business opportunities are at the core of their objectives.
Yet despite a very positive environment, many UK businesses struggle to know where to start when embarking on the exporting journey. They cite the language barriers, lack of cultural knowledge, the need for finance, the extra cashflow risks, ease of finding customers and partners, rules around moving goods and the lack of market insight. There are solutions to this myriad of challenges.
At the International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB2016) we are creating a shop window for UK businesses to showcase their expertise and to do deals with international partners.
We unveiled IFB2016 with Treasury Minister Lord O’Neill on the Chancellor’s recent trade mission to China by taking six businesses from the Northern Powerhouse to China to demonstrate the innovations taking place in the UK.
The fruits of this trip are already being felt with distribution deals being developed. However, not everyone can get on a UK Government delegation, so what steps can be taken? At IFB2016 we have partnered with Open To Export which defines the exporting journey in the following manner:
1. GETTING STARTED – WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING TO EXPORT OVERSEAS
Preparation is critical. Are you ready to export? What legal, IP and copyright issues will you have to consider?
2. SELECTING A MARKET – WHICH IS THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU
How can you research the market, how do you compare them and when to make the jump? What resources will you need?
3. REACHING CUSTOMERS – UNDERSTANDING HOW TO TALK TO AND REACH YOUR CUSTOMERS
What channels work for your business? Do you need a local distributor? Could e-commerce work for you?
4. PRICING AND GETTING PAID – ISSUES OF PRICING AND MANAGING EXCHANGE RATE RISK
Payment and pricing options, and do you need to take out finance insurance to cover your export risks?
5. DELIVERY AND DOCUMENTATION – GETTING THE GOODS TO YOUR CUSTOMER
What delivery option is most suitable for my product and should I use a freight forwarder?
By approaching the challenge in this logical fashion the risks are mitigated and the export journey can be as smooth as possible. Crucially, attending IFB2016 will help companies with stage 3, reaching customers.
The previous Festival in 2014 resulted in more than £300 million of trade and investment deals and created thousands of jobs across the UK. It is a place where deals are done, ideas are shared and partnerships are created.
For more information, visit
INSURANCE SECTOR INNOVATION PROMISES INJECTION OF LIQUIDITY TO EUROPEAN BUSINESSES
By Neil Ross, Regional Manager EMEA Trade Credit, AIG
There is a pressing need for access to working capital to help drive the European economy. Insurers have a unique opportunity to help free up much-needed working capital for businesses and their suppliers across the continent.
The drive towards fiscal prudence has throttled access to working capital in recent years, with regulations including Basel III and MiFID II inadvertently reducing the ability of traditional lenders to provide liquidity, especially to the largest engine of economic growth: the middle market.
This has caused frustrations for many businesses across Europe, limiting their investment in employment, commerce and expansion. With no other choice, many have responded by imposing extended payment terms on their suppliers, providing a brief respite for their cash flow needs. But this ultimately locks up working capital throughout the supply chain, causing the economy to slow – and straining important supplier relationships.
Recent research conducted in the UK shows a lack of access to working capital in the middle market is restraining growth – YouGov reported that £29bn is tied up
in the supply chains of just that one country.¹
Solving a macro-economic challenge of this nature is not traditionally the role of insurers and it’s not something they can solve on their own. However through smart partnerships, they can now play a vital role, driving liquidity for the important middle market through supply chain finance.
A well-established option for larger businesses, supply chain finance frees up working capital across the supply chain by enabling the buyer to improve payment terms and giving suppliers the option of early payment on their invoices, for a small fee. While early solutions promised much but failed to deliver, the market has now matured significantly, with innovative platforms offering quick low-cost funding at the click of a button.
Until now, this form of financing has remained limited to large investment grade businesses and inaccessible for many of the mid-market companies who could benefit the most. The main barrier for these businesses has been the cost of capital – and this is where insurers can provide the most value, building on their years of expertise and experience on the receivables side of the equation.
By contributing rating expertise, leveraging existing client relationships and underwriting the risk, insurers can offer a pool of potential funders a solid rate of return based on a guaranteed real-world short-term asset. This gives funders faith in the transparency and efficiency of the system as a whole, greatly smoothing the process.
The insurance industry has a proud tradition of fuelling business growth – through transferring risk it has enabled commerce to take on its biggest challenges. In 2015, limited access to working capital is a clear and present threat to the engine of our prosperity. Insurers can be at the forefront of providing a solution.