Business exporting drops to 8-year low

The proportion of firms actively exporting goods and services has fallen to a 31 per cent low, according to the latest industry data

The proportion of businesses that are exporting goods and services has fallen to an eight-year low.

The Times reported a survey polling 3,000 firms which have revenues of over £500,000. Carried out in February and May this year, it found that the proportion of active exporters has fallen to 31 per cent. When it published the findings from the same survey in August the proportion was 34 per cent for 2022 – the annual figure hasn’t been below than 33 per cent since records began back in 2015.

Official trade data released on Wednesday (December 13) showed that the value of goods exports measured at current prices had risen by 1.2 per cent in October while the value of services exports remained steady. There was a 5.8 per cent fall in the value of goods exported to the EU and an 8.2 per cent in the value of non-EU exports. The British Chamber of Commerce said the drop in EU goods exports for the second month running was ‘a major concern’.

William Bain, head of trade at the British Chamber of Commerce, said: “We would urge policymakers to take further measures to support exports, especially to the EU.”

Of the exporters polled by the Department for Business and Trade, 29 per cent reported a decrease in service exports while 20 per cent said that they had increased. Firms selling goods reported a 38 per cent fall in exports against a 20 per cent rise.

Just over half of respondents agreed with the following statement: “Since the UK left the EU in 2020 there has been less demand for UK goods and services.” A little under a quarter disagreed. Of the companies experiencing problems with their supply chain, 68 per cent blamed Brexit, followed by the state of the economy.

Those who were actively exporting said that America, Australia, the EU, India and the Gulf states were ‘core markets.’ The main barrier to doing more exporting was custom-related red tape for goods along with overseas regulations and bureaucracy for those selling services, according to the companies surveyed.

Recently, UK Exporting Finance announced support for SME exporters.     

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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