UK business' exporting expertise is on the decline, government survey finds

Mon 22 Aug 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

UK Exporters Losing knowledge

Companies have lost essential know-how in how to sell their goods overseas, a new survey by the Department for International Trade (DIT) has found.

Fresh polling of 3,000 businesses reveals that those trading in 2021 were much more likely to report having a “low” rather than a “high” knowledge of how to export.

This is first time this result has been recorded since 2018.

‘Decline’ in expertise

Just under a third (30%) of respondents said they had a lack of export knowledge compared to under a quarter (23%) in 2019. Officials told the Times that this was “significant”.

Two fifths (41%) of goods exporters responding to the survey reported a decline in sales in 2021 compared to just 28% in 2020. A third of services exporters also reported a fall, compared to 23% the year before.

More support needed

Director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade, Marco Forgione, said the findings provided “further evidence that more support needs to be given to the UK exporter community to equip it with the right expertise to trade internationally.”

He added:

“We know British businesses have an appetite for knowledge regarding international trade, as proved in March when we launched the International Trade Accelerator Voucher scheme.

“In just one week the IOE&IT were able to help over 1000 British businesses access their share of £1 million in the training, education and consultancy we provide.

“We will continue to champion the opportunities of international trade as a force for good and to help upskill the British business community in the process. Any company who is unsure of how to trade internationally should contact the IOE&IT to find out how we can help you.”

Exports a priority

DIT’s research comes as polling by the Global Britain Commission, reported in the Daily Mail, found that three-quarters of Conservative voters want the next Prime Minister to grow Britain’s export and international trade markets.

The Commission also found that a third of Conservative members believed PM Boris Johnson did not do enough to boost Britain’s international profile post-Brexit.

CPTPP defence

Johnson’s government secured over 70 trade pacts with countries following Brexit, though a significant majority of these rolled over arrangements the UK previously had as a former member of the EU.

Foreign secretary and Conservative Party leadership contender Liz Truss yesterday announced that negotiations for the UK to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) are now advanced, however.

International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “It’s just the latest of over 70 trade pacts we’ve forged with countries around the world. Every day we’re using our new-found freedoms to create more choices for people at home and expand the horizons for British exporters overseas.”

Trevelyan had previously hailed CPTPP as “one of the largest and most exciting free-trading clubs in the world”.

Pacific tilt

As previously reported by the IOE&IT Daily Update, the UK government has been increasing diplomatic links in the Indo-Pacific region, as part of a tilt towards the area to build up trade relations.

According to the Express, when the deal is completed, a market of more than half a billion people will be opened up to UK exporters, with a combined total GDP of almost £9 trillion.