IT IS an appointment that aims to help the south’s exporters reach high growth markets through an £8m business-led partnership.

Mark Baulch will work from Hampshire Chamber of Commerce’s Fareham office to connect firms with an accredited network of overseas business centres and support services.

The network is being developed by British Chambers of Commerce, the Government’s export support department UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mr Baulch’s appointment follows a successful bid by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce to be the lead chamber in the south east for the initiative.

He will also provide help to firms through chambers serving Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Thames Valley and the Isle of Wight.

Mr Baulch said: “My role is to be a conduit.

“I will be working directly with local chamber members to put them in touch with accredited business networks abroad quickly and seamlessly.

“That will mean practical support, assessing particular target markets and advising where to find the best opportunities for exporting products and services.”

He is one of nine regional initiative coordinators across the UK and will help firms develop market reach in any country.

Mr Baulch added: “I want to ensure that local companies take full advantage of this global business-led initiative whatever their sector and wherever they want to trade.

“High growth markets are often seen by our small and medium enterprises as difficult to access, so it makes sense to provide more business-to-business support in these countries.

“In time, this will help position UK exporters at the forefront of growth opportunities.”

Stewart Dunn, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber, said: “Mark will play a vital role in building a global network of support for businesses in the south east.

“They already export all kinds of goods and services from commercial marine to IT systems.

“Firms will now be seeking to increase trade as the economy improves at home and abroad and the chamber network here and overseas is ideally placed to help them.”