Government highlights untapped export potential in the UK

Tue 7 Apr 2020
Posted by: Ana Pintor
Trade News

The UK continues to break records for exports of goods and services but there remains significant untapped exporting potential, a government report has shown.

Findings from the National Survey of Registered Business’ Export Behaviours (NSRB) showed more than a tenth (13%) of all UK businesses that have not previously exported, as of the end of 2019, believed they have goods which could potentially be exported or developed for export.

The NSRB also found:

  • Two thirds (66%) of exporters are ‘passive’ exporters, waiting for incoming orders rather than actively targeting overseas customers
  • Only around a quarter (28”) of exporters are ‘active’ exporters (i.e. they actively pursue international orders)
  • Active exporters are much more likely to report growth in their international trade year on year 

This findings were reported in the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) quarterly ‘Trade and investment core statistics book’ released today (7 April).

The book sources the latest statistics and findings about UK trade from the ONS, HMRC and NSRB, among others.

Other findings

The book reports the UK exported £689bn worth of goods and services globally in 2019, a 5% increase on exports from 2018.

The UK’s top export markets for 2019 were the USA, Germany, China, France and the Netherlands, while it imported most from those same countries: Germany first, followed by China, USA, Netherlands and France.

China and South Korea were both among the fastest growing export markets for the UK between 2010 and 2018, growing 123% and 206% respectively.

A time before COVID-19

The figures cover the period just before the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact China before spreading throughout much of the western world.

The figures also show trade performance before the UK exited from the EU on January 31st this year.

The majority of UK imports still come from the EU (52.9% in both 2018 and 2019). Exports to the EU grew marginally as a percentage of total UK exports from 45.2% to 45.8%.

Goods exported to non-EU countries grew by 13.6% during 2019.