Government urged to encourage high volume 'superstar' exporters in CBI £700bn economic reset plan

Mon 24 May 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The UK should look to boosting green exports and encouraging SMEs to export as it sets about building back after the pandemic and Brexit.

The CBI has pitched a £700bn plan, called Seize the Moment, to rebuild the economy and urged the UK to avoid the failure to reset the economy that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

Tony Danker, director general of the CBI, calls for collaboration between businesses, trade unions, civil society and the government to cut carbon emissions and deliver on a plan for 2030, the Guardian reports.

The CBI report follows the publication last month (April) of the IOE&IT’s Policy Platform, which called for the setting up of a new UK Trade Committee to strengthen cross-government engagement and decision-making.

If chaired by the prime minister, the IOE&IT's report argued that such a committee would engage with industry to give greater focus and thrust to trade issues.

Net zero opportunity

Danker argues that while “decarbonising our economy is a planetary imperative, we can use our transition to net zero to create green jobs, to find sustainable solutions and sell them to the rest of the world".

According to the FT, the CBI wants the UK to develop “superstar” exporters that move 10-plus products to 10-plus markets — currently only about 14% of UK exporters do this, compared with 40% in Germany.

However, businesses across the country stand to gain from an “early mover advantage” by leading a campaign to decarbonise the global economy, the report claims.

According to the study, UK firms could boost low-carbon exports to the EU, including opportunities to grow electric vehicle and battery sales by £18bn over the next decade.

Address decline

While trade underpins the UK economy, accounting for 32% of total GDP, its global share is in decline the report claims.

The CBI calls for companies to be supported to target fast growing export markets such as Europe, the US, India, China and ASEAN countries. It also suggests a ‘play to your strengths’ strategy with a focus on financial services, information, communication and education.

According to Politico, the UK can’t waste the opportunity to reset its economy after the pandemic in the same way that it did following 2008.

Post-Brexit, Danker argues there is now a “strong political consensus about the big bets” the UK needs to make in order to stay competitive. “We genuinely have a window here,” he said. “This is the first window we’ve had in a while, and the country and the times that we live in demand that level of consensus.”

The CBI’s plan also proposes:

  • Helping firms increase their international ambitions by encouraging SMEs to trade for the first time, or by increasing the range of markets that established firms target and the products and services that they sell
  • Prioritising markets where the UK can succeed, such as the US, India and China where the UK has competitive advantage
  • Align DIT campaigns to focus resources on growth industries, as well as resourcing the UK’s new trade and investment hubs
  • Developing a digital platform accelerator programme to give SMEs more supports to expand overseas
  • Establish a Trade in Services Commission and set a strategy for services trade
  • Normalise UK-EU relationships.