Exporters in the North West are positive about their 2018 trade prospects, with a net balance of 20% expecting overseas sales to increase over the next six months, according to the latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds Bank.
This is on the back of a strong end to 2017 in which a net balance of 18% said their international trade had increased in the second half of the year.
Around 45% of the region’s businesses are currently export their goods or services – above the national average of 40% and down slightly from 50% six months ago.
While some are facing new challenges, with 50% of North West exporters deciding to focus more on UK sales in light of Brexit, most are optimistic about what lies ahead.
Richard Evans, North West area director for Lloyds Bank Global Transaction Banking, said: “The majority of North West exporters still see international trade playing an important role in their plans, despite the continued climate of domestic and international uncertainty.
“Judging from North West firms’ export performances over the previous six months, this confidence is not misplaced and by using international trade as a growth strategy for their business British firms can also manage risk during periods of uncertainty.”
The Business in Britain report, now in its 26th year, gathers the views of more than 1,500 UK companies, including 111 in North West, and tracks a range of performance and confidence measures.
Based on their current overseas trading, the current top three most popular partner countries for North West firms are the USA, Germany and Spain, with 22%, 12% and 10% of companies respectively exporting to these countries.
Looking ahead to the next six months, exporters in the region expect the biggest opportunities for international trade to come from the USA (38%), followed by Canada (26%) and Australasia (24%).
Richard added: “North West exporters continue to see the trade market in the USA as the promised land as they look to pre-emptively tackle the impact of a potential loss of access to the EU single market.
“Given the familiarity of UK businesses with the products and culture of the USA, and the fact they are primarily English-speaking, it is understandable that this is a key target for North West exporters. However, I would encourage exporters not to neglect other countries, as they may be more accessible than they think.
“Trading overseas can feel intimidating, but with the fall in the value of the pound making a lot of British exports more attractive overseas I’m certain that there are many opportunities for North West exporters to prosper globally with the right support.”