The UK Government has launched a new plan aiming to make Britain a 21st century exporting superpower, through better use of its overseas network, new online tools and through building an extensive business to business network.
The Department for International Trade estimates that 400,000 businesses believe they could export but don’t, while demand for British expertise and goods overseas is only growing.
Last year £620 billion of goods and services exported by British companies accounted for 30% of GDP, with UK exports at a record high.
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox, announcing the new Export Strategy, says the government’s long-term ambition is to go further and increase total exports as a proportion of GDP to 35%.
Responding to a call from business, The Export Strategy outlines how the government will produce smarter and more tailored support to UK companies. There are key elements to the strategy to support companies selling overseas:
- encourage and inspire more businesses to export
- inform businesses by providing information, advice and practical assistance on exporting
- connect UK businesses to overseas buyers, markets and each other
- deploy an awareness campaign to target UK exporters most likely to benefit from up to £50 billion worth of export finance and insurance support from UK Export Finance (UKEF)
Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department of International Trade, said:
“Since its creation two years ago, DIT has already helped thousands of UK companies to export – with exports now at a record high.
“As the world’s sixth largest exporter, we do punch above our weight, however, we also punch below our potential. This Export Strategy sets out to change that and to increase exports as a proportion of GDP from 30% to 35%, taking us from the middle of the G7 to near the top. This is ambitious, but achievable.
“This strategy builds on the UK Industrial Strategy and our existing export support services – our network of trade advisers and promoters across the UK and in 108 countries worldwide, UKEF’s £50 billion capacity to support exports in 60 currencies, and our great.gov.uk service. To achieve our aim, government must join up across departments to enable UK companies to succeed overseas.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, added: “Expanding trade is fundamental to creating new jobs, raising productivity and increasing prosperity across the country. This strategy is a timely signal that the government is committed to improving the United Kingdom’s international competitiveness.
“The CBI strongly supports the ambition to make exports 35% of GDP, which will put the UK out in front of many of our international competitors. We estimate that in every region of the country there are around 10% of businesses that could export, but don’t, and we look forward to working alongside the government to support and inspire them to seize the opportunity.”