UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) has launched the e-Exporting programme to enable more UK exporters to take advantage of online selling.

According to a UKTI statement, the programme is the first of its kind in the world, UKTI being the only organisation to have gained access to the operational information of over 400 global ‘e-marketplaces’ for the purposes of exporting.

As part of the programme, exporters will be able to access digital advice through local UKTI offices and match their category of product and chosen market through the ‘e-marketplace navigator’. The programme also promises to facilitate face-to-face events with the world’s leading e-marketplaces, like Amazon China, Japan’s Rakuten and Harper’s Bazaar.

Speaking at the programme’s launch at the Autumn Fair in Birmingham, trade minister Lord Livingston said: “Trading online is a great way to start exporting to a new country, enhance distribution in an exciting market and effectively sell while you sleep. The e-Exporting programme will help businesses thrive abroad in some of the world’s largest markets.”

With forecasts of three billion online consumers contributing to £60bn of online selling by 2018, Livingston says the programme demonstrates UKTI’s commitment to helping businesses seize the opportunity to export. “The UK leads the world in cross-border online sales, but there is still much more that can be done to help,” he adds.

Since a pilot of the programme was launched in November 2013 to introduce businesses to Chinese e-marketplaces, over 100 UK companies have launched in China through an e-marketplace. By widening the programme, UKTI aims to enable around 50,000 companies establish online trade channels.