International trade secretary Dr Liam Fox is aiming to increase exports as a proportion of UK GDP from 30% to 35% as part of an ambitious new export strategy announced today.
Exports are currently at a record high, as British companies exported £620bn of goods and services last year, the latest Office for National Statistics figures show. But the Department for International Trade estimates that 400,000 businesses believe they could export but do not.
The new export strategy aims to encourage and inspire more businesses to export by sharing success stories and facilitating peer-to-peer learning, as well as providing information, advice and practical assistance on a new online platform, great.gov.uk.
The government will seek to raise brands’ awareness of export funding of up to £50bn and insurance support from UK Export Finance (UKEF), and promote UKEF support in overseas markets to help UK companies win contracts.
“The United Kingdom is a great exporting nation and our exporters lead the way, in creating jobs, raising wages and growing our economy,” said Fox. “UK businesses are superbly placed to capitalise on the rapid changes in the global economic environment, and I believe the UK has the potential to be a 21st century exporting superpower.”
He added: “As we leave the European Union, we must set our sights high and that is just what this export strategy will help us achieve.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said; “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.”
“The CBI has consistently called for a long-term approach to exports. Previous strategies have come and gone, but businesses have been let down by their execution. Firms will work with the strong team in place at the Department for International Trade to ensure these plans are now rigorously carried out.”
Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, added: “Improving the UK’s export performance will depend upon many variables, but the good news is that there is plenty that can be done now to help businesses, irrespective of Brexit. We will be encouraging our members to engage with government to make sure this strategy really takes off and enables British firms to realise their full trading potential.”