Press Release

RIA welcomes Exports Strategy and new Tradeshow Programme

17 November 2021

The Government has today published a new Exports Strategy which includes the launch of a new Tradeshow Programme to support SMEs in attending overseas trade exhibitions.

Neil Walker, Exports Director at the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: 

“Whilst it is positive to see the Government’s Exports Strategy today, particularly the announcement of a new Tradeshow Programme to encourage SMEs into exporting, we do need to see how the programme will operate.

“The rail industry has previously benefitted significantly from Tradeshow Access Programme grants for SMEs to attend overseas shows, which has helped businesses attend exhibitions like InnoTrans and Middle East Rail. These small, but pivotal grants can introduce smaller companies to the world of exports, helping them to develop a presence in key markets around the world, thereby helping to boost the UK’s trade portfolio.  It is important that the new programme is as effective as the one it replaces.

“We will continue to work with the Department for International Trade to help UK rail suppliers sell their innovative and world-leading products and services, promoting clean growth across the globe.”

Notes to Editors


  1. The Exports Strategy can be found here

  2. About the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP):  The previous Tradeshow Access Programme provided a number of small grants to SMEs to go directly to the cost of exhibiting at overseas trade fairs. In rail, around 194 grants were given to businesses from 2016 to 2020, with each grant valued between £1,500 and £2,500. These grants allowed SMEs to exhibit at overseas tradeshows including at major events like InnoTrans in Germany, AusRail in Australia and Trako in Poland.

    According to Export Partners UK - a group of some 50 trade bodies who work to support exports - for every £1 invested by HM Treasury, at least £40 was generated from TAP to UK plc. A cost-benefit analysis of TAP by London Economics estimated that the total benefit of the programme in 2007/2008 amounted to £57.1 million. Given the programme costs of £11.2 million, the estimated benefit-cost ratio is 5:1. 

    UK rail already exports some £600 million a year in good and services, and UNIFE have predicted the global rail market will grow by between 1 and 2.3% over the next five years, equating to 203 billion Euros per annum.

  3. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has 300+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £43 billion in economic growth and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 710,000 people. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK; for every £1 spent in rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number).

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