The Sun: Business chiefs were red-faced last night after urging British firms to save the economy by exporting to Iran.
By STEVE HAWKES
BUSINESS chiefs were red-faced last night after urging British firms to save the economy by exporting to IRAN.
The CBI listed the pariah state as one of 11 countries companies should focus on to “get ahead of the curve”.
The report — put together with accountants Ernst and Young — comes hours after the US talked of slapping tough, new sanctions on Iran over fears it is seeking nuclear weapons.
CBI chiefs last night said they had simply been trying to highlight “high growth” economies around the world. Others alongside Iran include Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam.
A spokesman said: “The report does not seek to examine the geopolitical backdrop.”
But the gaffe is a setback ahead of the launch of the CBI Annual Conference today.
The CBI report Winning Overseas urges firms to broaden their horizons beyond Europe to boost the recovery and build on skills in construction, nanotechnology and telecoms.
It claims companies could generate an extra £20billion for the economy by simply matching the rate of German exports over the next decade.
Currently just four per cent of the UK’s exports go to so-called BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China. This compares with 11 per cent of German and US exports.
Steve Varley, of Ernst and Young, said: “A few hundred years ago we were the best in the world at trade.
“We were fantastic, we jumped in ships and off we went. We have lost our way and I think the Germans have surpassed us in trade to India now. Now is the time for the UK to seize the opportunity.”