Fresh on the back of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and the PM brokering a last minute Brexit ‘breakthrough’ deal, the latest import/export figures have been published by HM Revenue and Customs. In the year-on-year period up to September 2017, overall exports in the region grew from £13.2 million to £15.3 million, an increase of 13.7 per cent.
Last month saw the publication of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. The document which runs to over 200 pages sets out the Government’s plans to create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power to the UK. In its own words, the document is “avowedly international” and vows to, “stay true to our tradition of being one of the world’s most open economies – welcoming investment from overseas, participating in global supply chains, and buying and selling goods and services from all over the world”.
On that basis, the latest export figures seem to be ahead of the curve. The report highlights that sales of goods made in the UK and exported were up by 14.1 per cent to £241.1bn. Exports of goods have risen in every region of the UK, including the South West since the start of the year as the weak pound boosts business.
The report underlines how the fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote has turbo charged business in factories across the UK. Machinery and transport remains the biggest exporter for the South West, with exports rising 14 per cent from £8.35m in the first three quarters of 2016 to £9.73m in the same period this year.
The pound has weakened against a host of major currencies including the US dollar and the Euro making goods cheaper for overseas buyers. Non-EU exports for October 2017 were £15.3 billion. This was an increase of 1.5 billion (11 per cent) on last month and an increase of £1.0 billion (7.2 per cent) compared with October 2016. EU exports for October 2017 were £14.6 billion. This was a marginal decrease of 0.3 per cent on last month and an increase of £2 billion (16 per cent) compared with October 2016.
The top destination for English goods was the United States, followed by Germany and France. In the South West, exports to the United States also saw the biggest increase of 18 per cent from £2.3m to £2.8m. Exports to the EU were up 15.5 per cent from £5.9m to £7m with Asia coming a close third recording a rise of 14% year on year from £2.3m to £2.7m.
These positive figures will be a welcome boost for business, as earlier this month it was also announced that a new government review will consider how the UK can encourage and support British businesses to take advantage of the huge potential to grow exports.
The National Export Strategy (NES) review, led by the Department for International Trade (DIT), will work closely with businesses and across Whitehall to explore the barriers to exporting and identify the best ways in which the Government can help drive and support UK companies to increase exporting activity and unlock high potential opportunities overseas.
At the same time, a new UK Export Finance (UKEF) product for UK exporters and their supply chains was launched which will be good news for South West businesses, if successful, ensuring they have more time to pay for supplies of goods and raw materials, while helping smaller companies in export supply chains secure early payment to support their cash flow.
Stuart Rogers, Head of Brexit at PKF Francis Clark comments,
“Now that the PM has negotiated the breakthrough deal we should see the beginnings of the trade deal being negotiated. This is what businesses have been waiting for and it is what we will need to be focusing on so that we can help our clients through what is almost certainly going to be a very challenging time. There is plenty of Government led initiatives and we can see that, for the moment, the export statistics are strong. However, we are very much now entering the unknown”.