UK Government export targets need to be underpinned with health and security risk mitigation

The latest ONS data[1], released earlier this year, showed strong growth in UK exports – growing by £13.9 billion since the previous year. Commenting on the data International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, encouraged all businesses to mark 2019 as a year for overseas expansion, building on the Department for International Trade’s ambitious Export Strategy launched last August which seeks to move exports as a percentage of GDP from 30% to 35%.

The export market is clearly vital to the UK economy, and nothing should be done to deter that. But it’s imperative that employers understand the risks their employees will be facing so that effective mitigation strategies can be adopted, especially for travel and work in less familiar countries and those that already experience health and security issues.

For example, the latest ONS data shows that exports to Nigeria were up 29.2% year on year; 27.3% for India and 18.5% for Thailand. All three of these countries have healthcare provision which differs markedly from the UK.

While good quality care is available in private hospitals in Bangkok and India’s biggest cities, the quality of care can be very poor in provincial locations and in publicly-funded hospitals. The situation is even more difficult in Nigeria. In addition, these countries present infectious disease risks which do not exist in the UK. Examples include malaria, which is a deadly risk in Nigeria, and Zika virus which is present in all three countries and presents a serious risk to the health of unborn babies.

From a security perspective, Nigeria faces many challenges from organised crime and kidnapping to militancy in the Niger Delta and north eastern areas of the country, where Boko Haram still maintain a presence. Meanwhile India has one of the highest rates of localised social unrest in the world and continues to attract international attention for violence against women. In Thailand the country has recovered from the political turmoil of 2007 but terrorism, insurgency and crime all pose a latent risk. Perhaps the most significant of all these risks is the horrendously high rate of road traffic fatalities in all of these countries.

With many companies looking beyond traditional export markets it’s crucial that they have the best possible understanding about the potential health and security risks that might exist.

Healix can help employers fulfil their duty of care responsibilities by taking a proactive approach to mitigating international risk, utilising an integrated and worldwide network of security, medical and transportation resources. 24/7 global monitoring of volatile areas, professional advice, contingency planning and expert emergency action provide peace of mind to employers and employees’ families. And our 24/7 Operations Centres give companies and their employees a direct line to doctors, nurses and security professionals in a crisis.

Click here to view our complete range of Global Travel Risk Management Services.

Whether it’s simply a risk report produced ahead of a fact-finding mission or more comprehensive support for longer-term employee placement, Healix has extensive experience and knowledge to support UK companies’ global trading ambitions.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ons-trade-statistics-exports-rise-by-14-billion

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