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PM Calls For More Exports To Boost Growth

(c) Sky News 2012

The Prime Minister has urged business leaders to "spread" export opportunities to help small and medium-sized companies.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), David Cameron said:  "Our market may be subdued, but there is fantastic growth elsewhere in the world.

"We need to spread export opportunities right down to small and medium-sized businesses."

He also said: "Britain is in a global race to succeed today. Every week you step off aeroplanes in the South and East and feel the pace of change there."

Mr Cameron said there would also be a slashing of red tape, which is holding back British enterprise, and he now plans to reduce bureaucratic hurdles for British businesses.

He argued: "Back in 1998, there were 4,500 (judicial) applications for review and that number almost tripled in a decade. We urgently needed to get a grip on this."

The Prime Minister pointed the finger at lobbyists, as pressure from them creates "risk-averse" civil servants.

"Over the past two and a half years, I've worked with exceptional civil servants who are as creative and enterprising as any entrepreneur, and they are as frustrated with a lot of this bureaucratic rubbish as I am."

He warned bureaucrats also needed to use the same spirit that was needed to defeat Hitler during the Second World War, in order to get the economy back on track, and warned the country is at the "economic equivalent of war".

Mr Cameron said: "When this country was at war in the 1940s, Whitehall underwent a revolution.

"Normal rules were circumvented. Convention was thrown out. As one historian put it, everything was thrown at 'the overriding purpose' of beating Hitler.

"Well, this country is in the economic equivalent of war today - and we need the same spirit."

Also speaking at the conference was Business Secretary Vince Cable, who told business leaders he was pressing ahead with plans to reverse constraints on skills that have resulted from a historic "serious lack of investment".

He maintained that the supply of high quality, skilled workers was increasingly important for future economic growth.

Mr Cable said the UK needed to remain open to overseas workers and investors, because that was how Britain had gained much of its industrial and business expertise.

This year's conference takes place against the backdrop of rebounding economic growth, but the outlook remains uncertain.

Recent data showed gross domestic product jumped 1% in the third quarter, as Britain powered out of its longest double-dip recession since the 1950s with the help of the London Olympic Games.

However, the Bank of England forecast last week that the economy could shrink again in the fourth quarter, with low growth expected for the next three years due to the eurozone debt crisis, tight credit and inflationary pressures.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband sought to pile pressure on David Cameron ahead of a crunch EU budget summit next week, by saying that Britain must take a "hard-headed" approach to the problems facing the EU.

Mr Miliband, who last month joined forced with Tory rebels to defeat the Government over its strategy, said Labour must not ignore the legitimate concerns of eurosceptics.

David Cameron travels to Brussels on Thursday facing pressure from his backbenchers to push for the real-terms spending cut approved in the non-binding Commons vote, which Labour helped secure.

The Prime Minister, who insists a rise in line with inflation is a more realistic target in the negotiations, has threatened to use the UK's veto if the rise proposed by the Commission is not drastically reduced.

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