High-growth countries such as India, rather than struggling eurozone nations, should be targeted by UK exporters, believes a Midlands MP.
Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, was addressing a seminar hosted by Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce designed to get more small and medium-sized firms exporting.
Bridgen said companies should be looking to export to strong economies such as India, China and Brazil instead of the eurozone, the Leicester Mercury reported.
"Europe may have been the place to export to once, but its high indebtedness and economic problems mean you need to move away from it," he said.
"We are in an enviable position in Leicestershire, with a vibrant economy, good links to an airport and good cultural links to places such as India, to which we want to export more."
The event, which was attended by about 80 people, took place at Quorn Country Hotel.
Speeches also came from Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan, Leicestershire chamber chief executive Martin Traynor and Crispin Simon, who is in charge of government agency's UK Trade and Investment's SME division.
Morgan said: "Exports are good for companies and good for the country. The more you export, the more staff a company will take on."
Universal Textiles, an online shop run from Cross Street, Syston, is one company that is looking to increase exports. It sells socks, thermals, hats, gloves, bedding and babywear. It has been helped by UKTI to expand.
Ravi Karia, who runs the business and attended Friday's event, said turnover was set to almost double to £2.3m in the year to August – partly thanks to exporting to markets such as France, Germany and the US.
He has his sights on Italy, Spain and China and hopes to increase his 15-strong workforce.
"What I've heard from people here is that I should definitely move into China," he said.
Graham Butcher, technical sales manager at Stowlin Croftshaw, of South Wigston, which supplies chemical products, also attended the event.
He said: "We want to export more but haven't got enough experience. We need more information."
East Midlands companies exported £17.7bn of goods and services last year – the highest amount since 2006. The 2011 figure was £2.5bn higher than in 2010.
The government wants to increase the proportion of British companies which export from 20% to 25%. It said the rise could add £36bn to the UK economy.