Figures from the Department for International Trade (DTI) for the year to March 2018 reveal that exports of UK goods have hit record highs, with the combined sales of goods and services overseas exceeding £620.2bn.
The government announced the results at the end of June, noting that exports to Canada were up by 12.8%, to India by 32%, and to China by 15.3%, whilst export growth to the EU rose by the comparably smaller amount of 10%.
Indeed, International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox seemed keen to stress that post-referendum pessimism around Britain’s capacity to grow exports was unfounded. The DTI quotes Dr. Fox as saying:
“Our trade deficit narrowed and UK business is delivering for Britain and succeeding on the world stage. As an international economic department we are banging the drum for the growing demand for our goods and services.”
Exports of goods were up 10% year on year, whilst exports of services grew by less than half as much: 4.2%. An increase in demand for British manufactured goods was behind the growth in exports of goods whilst “strong global interest in the UK’s prestigious financial and travel services” drove the increase in provision of international services, the DTI says.
Exports of services to non-EU countries outweighed those to the EU, with non-EU countries responsible for 60.4%, or £167.4bn of all service-based exports.
The DTI says that the increase in exports has decreased the trade deficit (the difference between goods and services exported vs imported) by £7.7bn to £23.1bn, and narrowed the current account deficit to £80.3bn; a £12.2bn year-on-year drop, and the narrowest as a percentage of GDP since 2012.
The DTI also cited a Barclays Survey that reveals that nearly two thirds of consumers in India, over half in China and just under half in the UAE were prepared to pay a premium for British goods on account of their perceived superior quality. “Brand Britain”; promoting the Britishness of products; says Barclays, could be worth as much as $3.45bn per annum to the economy.
The Money Cloud View
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that every new set of facts and figures, and especially those relating to imports and exports, are composed with Brexit in mind, either making the case that everything is hunky dory, and we should be optimistic, or that the consequences of leaving the EU will be disastrous and that it is not too late to do something about it. Given yesterday’s high profile departures from Theresa May’s cabinet, it now seems like anything is possible.
But Brexit or no Brexit, we are always reliant on forward-thinking entrepreneurs and business people to market and sell our products abroad, and it’s good to see the DTI encouraging the nation’s SMEs to consider exporting through initiatives like Great Gov.uk, which has helped 3.6m people begin their exporting journeys and promoted more than 17k British companies abroad.
Exporting is great, as the DTI is fond of saying; politics works best when is enabling good things to happen.
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