West Midlands firms are missing out on vital export opportunities by not looking at investing in emerging market economies, Trade Minister Lord Jones of Birmingham has said.
Too many firms in the region are content to do business with established markets such as the United States and Europe, said Lord Jones.
But in doing so they are ignoring the potential offered by the likes of China, India, Russia, Latin America, South Africa and Eastern Europe.
Delivering the key note speech at a CBI conference on International Trade, held at Birmingham International Airport, Lord Jones said: "We are a diverse region and I urge local companies to take advantage of the immense export potential being generated by the new high growth markets, not only China and India but also Mexico, Turkey, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
"These markets, among others, are expected to be a major source of both trade and foreign direct investment in the future." He said manufacturing companies, especially those in the automotive and aerospace sectors were best placed to benefit, while those involved in new technology and telephony could also do well.
"The economies of the emerging countries are growing at a much faster rate than established markets. For example growth in the US this year is expected to be just over one per cent whereas China is looking at something between eight or nine per cent," said Lord Jones.
He also said that his travels around the globe had shown him there was a willingness by the emerging market countries to work with British companies. UK Trade & Investment, which sponsored today's conference, is implementing a five-year plan to get more West Midlands businesses involved in new markets.
"There are enormous opportunities available and we don't want to look back in five years time and say 'I wish I had done something then' because it could be too late by then," said Lord Jones.
The CBI's West Midlands regional director, Chris Clifford, said that despite the current gloomy economic outlook, companies in the region were embracing globalisation.