International trade expert Nicole Howarth is predicting a rise in exports in the next quarter, despite recent figures which showed a slowdown in UK’s goods heading overseas.
Mrs Howarth said she was unsurprised by the recent CBI figures, which revealed disappointing export growth even though SME manufacturers reported strong order books in the last three months.
The CBI’s latest SME Trends Survey reported that domestic orders and output both rose strongly, for the fourth consecutive quarter, and were expected to grow robustly again in the next three months.
However while 18 per cent of of firms said export orders rose, 20 per cent said they fell – figures which Mrs Howarth, managing director of award-winning Global Freight, said were to be expected given the strength of the pound.
“The CBI’s figures show that exports have remained broadly flat, however I think certainly in Shropshire and the wider Midlands, we have seen a small increase in the amount of trade being done internationally, both bringing goods in and shipping them out.
“There may be a number of reasons why the strong order books are not translating into export growth, but given how strong sterling is at the moment, and recent events in Eastern Europe, I’m not surprised that some companies may be delaying shipments.=
“However, as we move into the next quarter, and the orders are fulfilled amind a potentially calmer poliical situation particularly in Europe, we are expecting to see a jump in nationwide export growth. This is a trend we are seeing in our own business as we are booking an increasing number of consignments being shipped to Europe, the Far East, South Africa and the United States in the next few months.
The CBI survey found that smaller manufacturers plan to increase their investment in plant and machinery over the next year, while their expenditure on buildings is expected to stay broadly the same as last year.
Mrs Howarth also welcomed a call from Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, who said the Government needed to get behind SME manufacturers to help them sell their products and services into new markets around the world.
“Like many of the SMEs surveyed, we are feeling very positive about the future growth of our own business and we’re delighted to play a part in the overseas success of companies we assist to trade interntionally. But there will be many companies who need extra help to take that first step to target new markets, and Government-backing is vital if UK plc is to achieve its potential beyond its own borders.”
In the three months to July, the survey also found that 31 per cent of firms said they were more optimistic about their business situation and 34 per cent of firms said that employment increased.