UK falling as goods exporter despite shining beacon of Midlands performance

A study of export prospects in the UK has found that Britain is likely to lag behind the rest of Europe over the coming years.


A study of export prospects in the UK has found that Britain is likely to lag behind the rest of Europe over the coming years.

UK goods exports are not growing at a fast enough rate, Ernst & Young (which now goes by EY) says, due to a predicted decline with the US, Germany, France and Ireland.

Research conducted by the professional services firm predicts 0.3 per cent annualised growth in UK goods exports to 2017 – less than half the 1 per cent figure forecast as a European average.

EY chief economist Mark Gregory says that UK goods exporters are falling behind the recovery seen in the wider economy.

‘We are seeing a decline in demand from our traditional large trading partners for UK goods to 2017,’ Gregory adds. 

‘The US is starting to re-shore some of its manufacturing capabilities and competition from countries like Mexico, Malaysia and Poland, particularly at the nuts and bolts end of manufacturing, is increasing.’

Despite the UK lagging behind the forecast European average, strong growth has been found in regions such as the East Midlands, South West and Yorkshire & Humberside. The East Midlands prediction shows growth of 8.1 per cent between 2012 and 2017, outstripping the 2.3 per cent for Germany.

The region is said to be on track to grow faster than any other UK region by selling high-end engineering far outside Europe. Its counterpart, the East Midlands, has forecast growth of 6.1 per cent while Wales is being lined up as the worst goods exporter through a fall of 3.1 per cent.

More on exporting in the UK:

Data derived from EY’s UK Goods Export Monitor shows that growth in UK goods exports is likely to be outpaced by import demand in nine out of ten of Britain’s fastest-growing trade routes.

Sara Fowler, Midlands’ senior partner at EY, comments, ‘Although the Midlands region remains behind the London and the South East for total value of UK goods exports, it is the biggest regional winner by speed of growth.

‘Over the last 15 years the region’s good exporters have invested in competing at the niche manufacturing end of the automotive and engineering sectors and this is now paying dividends.’

The study shows automotive, engineering, oil and gas and pharmaceuticals at the core of UK goods export growth over the next five years.

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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