Midlands exports to Europe on the rise

British exports continue to rise

Exports of British goods and services around the world rose by 11.3% in the first full year since the EU referendum, according to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

Newly released figures on the import and export of goods show that trade with non-EU countries grew by 11.6% in 2017 – faster than with the EU at 10.9%.

In total, exports from UK companies in 2017 rose to £617bn, with the UK’s renowned service sector continuing to thrive, driving service exports up 8.7% to £274bn.

Goods exports also rose strongly by 13.4% to £342bn. Best sellers including cars and mechanical and electrical machinery are going to market in countries such as the USA, China, and Germany.

Exports are also continuing to grow at a much faster pace than imports, narrowing the trade deficit by £7bn in the last year.

International trade secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said: “In the first full year after the EU referendum, demand for British goods and services is higher than ever with exports rising by £62.5bn and the trade deficit narrowing.

“As I meet my counterparts across the world, one thing always stands out: the UK’s reputation for producing trusted, high quality products.

“These new figures are a testament to the hard work of companies up and down the country. As an international economic department, we will continue to build on this success by helping more firms export through our Exporting is GREAT campaign and global network of more than 1700 trade advisers.”

In a further boost, ONS statistics also released last week show manufacturing output reached its highest level since February 2008.

The figures were welcomed by leading industry bodies, demonstrating how Britain’s trading presence has grown as the country gets ready to leave the EU and forge our own free trade agreements.

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “One of the UK’s key objectives over the coming years must be to raise our game on international trade.

"We have to get more companies selling abroad, increase volumes from current exporters, strengthen links with existing trade partners, and forge new ones in markets where our reach is currently limited.

“We have great companies, some world-leading industries and huge potential. The trade narrowed shrank between 2016 and 2017, and IoD member exports are up, but there are still significant challenges ahead, so it is imperative that the Department for International Trade and businesses work together to deliver a step-change in our trade performance.”

The country also remains a strong destination for investment with a record number of foreign direct investment projects into the UK in 2016/17. The Department for International Trade (DIT) recorded 2,265 projects – up 2% on the previous year – estimated to have created or safeguarded more than 107,000 jobs.

DIT continues to support businesses in making the most of their exporting potential and increasing overall trade and investment.