Working with Department for International Trade and the new General Data Protection Regulations

With a network of offices in 109 countries, and International Trade Advisers based in every region of the UK, the Department for International Trade (DIT) delivers free-to-access services that assist businesses in growing internationally. International trade is vital to the UK's economy, and the East of England is a major contributor to its total exports.

There are many reasons that prevent a business from selling overseas. Some just don't know where to start, or have little experience in marketing oversees. Others find the different regulations, language and cultural barriers very daunting, especially as they can change from one country or continent to the next.

Using DIT's advice and guidance, and by taking things one step at a time, businesses will find it easier to manage the extra challenges of exporting. Their guidance and support makes it easier to understand regulations, shipping, local knowledge, language and cultural differences, getting paid and how to make sure your marketing efforts are suited to overseas buyers. DIT and Third Light, a software development company based in Cambridge, share their thoughts on some of the current hurdles facing UK exporters today, with some valuable advice on how to approach them.

Trading in Europe with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Issues regarding information regulations and data protection have been a big sticking point for many companies trading here and overseas, especially those dealing with sensitive information.

Roland Henry, Commercial Director at Third Light Ltd advises:

"There are many data protection regulations and laws that people need to be aware of, and they are constantly changing. For example, in less than a year, on 25 May 2018, The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, will overhaul how businesses process and handle data. However, as they are intended to bring Europe’s data policies into line, they could well make life easier for businesses entering the market now. Despite Brexit, our own UK laws will largely mirror the GDPR, so even for businesses not exporting, they will still need to be in the know."

The GDPR is Europe's new framework for data protection laws. It replaces the previous 1995 data protection directive, which current UK law is based on. Within the GDPR there are large changes for the public as well as businesses and bodies that handle personal information.

Ben Peterson, DIT’s East of England Marketing Manager explains:

"There are 99 articles setting out the rights of individuals and the obligations placed on organisations covered by the regulation, which will undoubtedly seem daunting to most companies. The articles talk about allowing people to have easier access to the data that companies hold about them, a new fines regime and a clear responsibility for organisations to obtain the consent from the people they collect information about. More interestingly, the regulations don't just apply to companies who collect names and addresses and credit card information, they apply to all those who handle or hold 'personal information' – 'any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person'."

Roland continues:

"It's not surprising that some people are concerned about the implications when reading these announcements, but actually there are many software solutions on the market today that are designed to help companies adhere to these regulations. Our own digital asset management software manages digital media and other files, which may contain sensitive information or images of people. Very often the files will also have metadata attached which may contain personal data, including names, addresses, telephone numbers and geographic location, and because of that our system has many permission settings with customizable, password-protected user accounts. Approval flows and user restrictions, expiry dates and watermarks can also help control where and how those files can be used. It also generates reports of when files have been downloaded or shared from the system and by who, which can be used as proof of compliance where needed. Technical security is also a key factor, so businesses have to be absolutely sure they’ve taken steps to ensure every system they use is robust and fit for purpose."

Customize metadata to protect media files Set download approvals in your digital media library

Translating English products for the European market

For some companies, the sale of a product isn't so dependent on language, and all that's required are some product labels to be printed in the appropriate language, with some consistent packaging. However, with a piece of software that's supported by user guides, set-up manuals, and itself has an English menu and navigational buttons, translating that into a usable product for a non-English speaking market is quite a task. This is an area that DIT can offer expert guidance on, introducing appropriate suppliers where needed.

Roland adds:

"Historically we've been very successful exporting to other English-speaking countries, especially in the US. But we were unsure whether we had the capability to branch out into European markets given the language barriers that we faced for us as a team and the product itself. However, with the right advice and some wise investment in product development, we are now confident that we can deliver what our European customers are looking for."

For more information about GDPR, click here:

DIT offers free support to help businesses in other ways, including selling online overseas, marketing, finance sources and funded tradeshows. If you’re new to exporting and want to know more, you can find some useful information here:

If you'd like to know more about Third Light's digital media library, and how it can help your business comply with data protection regulations, you can find out more at . or just . Or if you haven't tried our digital media library yet, sign-up today for a 30-day free trial.

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