UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) West Midlands is running a masterclass on German culture and language for businesses that are looking to export to this European giant. In 2014, exports of goods to Germany from the West Midlands were worth £2.6 billion, up five per cent on the previous year, making it the region’s third largest export market.

But with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) estimating that the UK is losing out on up to £48 bn worth of export business because of a lack of language skills, companies from across the region are potentially missing out on valuable trade.

UKTI West Midlands runs market specific language and culture seminars and its next one is on October 29, focusing on business culture in Germany.

The seminar will be held at the National Metalforming Centre in West Bromwich and will give an introduction to all of the key aspects of business culture and language, including pronunciation, meeting formalities, socialising, and face-to-face negotiation. The masterclass is £75 but free of charge to businesses on UKTI’s export support programme.

Christine Hamilton, Acting UKTI West Midlands Regional Director, said to succeed overseas it is key for businesses to improve their language and cultural skills.

She said: “We need to change the perceptions that the language barrier is too big to get over, that it’s too difficult to compete with native speakers, or that ultimately, everyone out there speaks English.

 “There is a great demand for UK products and services in the world right now, and the effort companies make to create relationships overseas will go a long way to securing sustainable international growth.

“Our language and culture seminars are ideal for any business looking to enter a specific market.”

At a recent Japanese half-day masterclass, 15 delegates learned about what is important in Japanese culture, such as trust and building long-term relationships, and about the psychology of Japanese business culture, etiquette and their preferred communication style.