Why we launched UK Export Monitor: IOE and IT chief on providing proof of growing exporter confidence

Fri 11 Feb 2022
Posted by: Marco Forgione

Marco Forgione

Over the past few months, the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) has been working closely with Coriolis Technologies to produce a UK Export Monitor, Marco Forgione writes.

This brand-new data set is vital to businesses and shows a 12-month rolling average of UK export statistics. We will be reporting on a monthly basis from here on, providing an important data set of information on what's happening with exporter flows from the UK right now.

The Export Monitor will be a key piece of information. Never before has there been so much emphasis placed on the role of UK exporters to reshape the economy and in bringing to life the new free trade agreements that the government is signing.


What makes this data set different to others available is the methodology we use to track this information.

We have matched UK exporter data from HMRC sources with Bill of Lading data and large-scale publicly available datasets. UK HMRC data covers the names and addresses of all UK exporters who send products through customs and excise. These names were matched to business information databases to establish turnover and employment levels.

The monitor will track on a monthly basis exporter count, employee counts and exporter revenues for the whole of the UK. The first edition of the monitor can be found here and will be made publicly available in the second week of every month.

This month we saw a pick-up in the figures for January over those of December. We will build this into a library of information that can provide vital data not just for businesses but for government too.

Economic health

I can’t stress enough how important exports are to the health of our economy. The UK is a trading nation, with trade accounting for 55% of our GDP. As a result of Brexit, there is a unique set of circumstances which mean that the future of our trading relationships with the world is up for grabs.

This first edition highlights some very interesting points such as how the Covid-19 pandemic has made things difficult for all businesses trading internationally.

This has been particularly challenging year for British exporters, as Brexit has added an unprecedented set of challenges. We need to congratulate them for navigating their way through.

We saw a huge increase in the first quarter of 2021 in the number of companies exporting because of the change in the way that companies in Great Britain now deal with the EU.

Government support needed

The decline since that peak in March 2021 indicates that companies, particularly those that are SMEs, need more support from government, to access advice and training to deal with the uncertainty that they face right around the world.

As a country we can’t afford to lose out on the contribution of any companies that have shown they could be exporters. The government’s Export Strategy is a good start, but this needs to be prioritised right across government.

Exporter confidence

Looking forward, there is an opportunity in so many UK companies having been introduced to exporting this year. Once they are confident in exporting to Europe, and we believe that is increasingly the case, taking the next step into global markets will not be so daunting.

We are keeping a close eye on these challenges, and we’ll be reporting on progress. The IOE&IT is here to offer support, guidance and training to ensure British businesses can trade confidently and compliantly with the world.

I look forward to hearing your reactions to our Export Monitor in the comment box below.