Government sets out £1 trillion export target as International Trade Week commences

Mon 15 Nov 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Department for International Trade

The Department for International Trade is kicking off the UK’s first International Trade Week event today as it bids to get more British firms exporting to reach a £1 trillion a year export target by 2030.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has wanted to overhaul Britain’s post-Brexit export strategy nearly a year after Great Britain left the EU’s single market.

'Sold to the World'

Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan today launched the inaugural International Trade Week (15-19 November), urging UK businesses to sell to the world with DIT’s new ‘Made in the UK, Sold to the World’ campaign.

Various financial support initiatives are being unveiled to boost overseas trade, including export-linked loans and access to expertise and advice.

Financial support

Small businesses are expected to get financial support to attend trade shows, conferences and exhibitions. This could replace the Tradeshow Access Programme, scrapped in July this year, which had provided help with costs for businesses in the past.

The government’s Export Strategy document is expected to be published this week.

“This is the first time we have had an export strategy since leaving the EU,” said one UK trade official, who pointed to data showing that only about 10% of British companies currently sell overseas, supporting 6.5 million jobs in the UK.

“By increasing exports this is going to help Britain level up,” the official told the FT.

Bigger projects for UKEF

Other changes include the government’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), providing backing for larger working capital loans for foreign or domestic companies that want to start exporting from the UK.

Enhanced support from UKEF includes making its Export Development Guarantee (EDG) more flexible and accessible, to help to bring foreign businesses to the UK, stimulate investment into the green economy and level up its support for SMEs across the country.

UKEF will also double the repayment period from five to 10 years for “green” exporters to boost the UK’s low-carbon economy and encourage rapid export growth.

As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, the government has highlighted the export opportunities for British companies to be green leaders. Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan announced the new Clean Growth programme to promote the UK’s green export capabilities, at COP26 last week.

Export success stories

The Times highlighted successful export stories such as Remoteli, which supplies remote business services, and HV Wooding, a specialist manufacturer of electric vehicles that has increased its exports this year.

The government’s last export plan, in 2018, aimed to encourage an increase in exports as a percentage of GDP from 30% to 35%. After hitting 31.7% in 2019, it fell back to 27.1% in 2020. In contrast, exports represent 43% of the German economy.

In the three months to September, exports and imports remained lower than they were in the same period in 2018, according to ONS data.

In its forecasts published with the budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility said that it expected exports to fall “slightly” in the next few years, and said that “both import and export intensity have been reduced by Brexit, with developments still consistent with our initial assumption of a 15 per cent reduction in each”.

Trade bodies expect the DIT to use this week to “draw a line in the sand” after the disruption to cross-border trade caused by Brexit, the Times reports.

IOE&IT membership offer

To mark International Trade Week, the IOE&IT is making a special offer on the cost of membership of the leading body for professionals and organisations involved in international trade.

With more than 6,000 members – half in manufacturing and a fifth each in retail and logistics – IOE&IT members range from sole traders and SMEs to large corporations and public bodies.