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THE boss of flagship Blackburn wallpaper manufacturer Graham and Brown has warned Business Secretary Vince Cable that government support for exporters is ‘slow and uncompetitive’.

Andrew Graham has demanded a change of gear and sent him a six-point plan.

He says the government's export finance programme should be run by the private sector to speed it up.

Mr Graham, whose company exports to 75 countries, said policy-makers should ‘back the best’ targeting mid-sized businesses rather than focusing on start-ups.

He said: “It is fashionable for politicians to talk about rebalancing the economy by helping businesses to export more, but the reality is that those in power are often hampering firms rather than helping them because of a naïve system that is too bureaucratic, slow and uncompetitive.

"We found this ourselves when attempting to reach into new markets, like North Africa and Russia. UK Export Finance treats lending money for export as a massive risk but doesn’t consider the jobs and growth created, in contrast to countries like Germany and Canada.

“The other mistake politicians make is focusing on very small businesses which have never exported, instead of backing the best.

“If we want to avoid becoming a bit-part player we need to back the winners who have the best chance of creating more jobs and growth. We have to look at which businesses have the most potential to grow.”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “Andrew is absolutely right. The government should listen to him.”

A UKTI spokesperson said: “Last year UKTI helped over 40,000 firms to sell their products and services abroad.

“We have written to every medium-sized firm in the country to offer them export support and we are trebling the number of dedicated trade advisors.”