25 September, 2014 - 15:21 By News Desk

Don’t just survive but thrive through exports

Thinley-Topden

As the country emerges from a challenging economic climate, the role of exporting remains crucial both in helping reduce the trade deficit, and providing a way for firms to grow and increase their own productivity and competitiveness.

The latest export figures for the region underline the fact that local businesses can get much more out of exporting than they currently do. 

The figures show EU exports down 6.1 per cent for the 12-month period to the end of June 2014, compared to the same period last year, at £15.48bn; and non-EU exports down by 1.8 per cent at 11.23bn for the same period. 

Overall, total exports are down by 4.4 per cent at £26.71bn. However within these figures some of our key EU markets saw an encouraging increase with Netherlands, Italy and the Irish Republic rising by 6.2 per cent, 5.2 per cent and 2.6 per cent to £2.3bn, £919m and £1.9bn respectively. Outside the EU, South Korea saw a huge increase of just over 82 per cent to £454m.

Exports to Middle East countries continue to perform well and saw an overall 11 per cent increase, with 13 per cent and 10 per cent increases for UAE and Saudi Arabia, respectively. 

Essex firm Irwin Science Education – which provides power supplies, data logging, microscopy and mobile science benches for the science and education sectors - is one of the many firms expanding its exports to this region and recently secured overseas orders worth almost £190,000 through deals in Dubai and Oman.

So why is exporting so important?

Economically, exports contribute about 60 per cent of GDP growth; around one in four jobs in the UK are linked to overseas business, with up to 4.2m jobs linked directly or indirectly to our trade with EU countries. And as UK exporters account for 70 per cent of business R & D, exporting helps to create the types of firms which will be the backbone of the UK economy in the future.

For individual companies the benefits are clear: exporting gives businesses a distinct competitive advantage. Exporting companies tend to be more resilient during an economic downturn, with research consistently showing that companies which export to any country, in any financial climate, perform better than those which don’t. In a survey, 44 per cent of companies active abroad reported increased turnover over a three-year period; with exporters 11.4 pr cent more likely to survive than non-exporters. Exporters consider direct growth to be the biggest benefit of doing exporting; 38 per cent of entrepreneurs said exporting led to a level of growth not otherwise possible.

Productivity and innovation increase too. Accessing potentially millions more customers in overseas markets can increase sales volumes and reduce unit costs; firms beginning to export have been found to gain a 34 per cent productivity uplift in the first year alone. And the good news is the demand for innovative, quality British products and services across the world has never been greater.

As Irwin Science Education co-founder Frank Campbell told the team: “Overseas expansion was critical to the survival of our business, but we wouldn’t have been able to do this without UKTI support, which enabled us to carry out crucial market research, visit customers and participate in exhibitions.”

Later this autumn, from November 10-14, the team here at UKTI East will be hosting a number of export events  across the region as part of Export Week. We have events for exporting experts and novices alike with the biggest event at Newmarket racecourse on 11 November where companies can meet on a one-to-one basis with market experts from over 60 international markets, and learn from 16 export related seminars taking place throughout the day.

More details on all the events during the week, and how to register can be found at http://www.exportweek.ukti.gov.uk/full/

 At UKTI, we help companies ensure they are best prepared for export via its network of market experts and advisers across the UK and overseas. To find out how UKTI can help your business expand overseas call: 0845 641 9955; email info [at] uktieast.org.uk or log onto the website at www.ukti.gov.uk

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