Sector Friday - export performance

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It's Friday, so we are back to our weekly look at sectors. This week, with trade data out today (see my previous blog post) we thought a look at the export performance of different sectors would be interesting.

What we know from previous Sector Fridays

- Nearly 30% of basic metals' output is exported- 83% of UK produced cars, 57% of commercial vehicles and 62% of engines, are exported- Approximately three-fifths of food and drink exports go to the EU- Pharmaceuticals is the second most export intensive manufacturing sector with half of output exported- 53% of electronics exports went to non-EU countries in 2012, the first time a greater proportion of exports went outside of the EU

Let's go a bit wider and look at (nearly) the full range of manufacturing sectors.

Exports according to sector, £million exported in 2012

Source: National Statistics

Motor vehicles topped the tree last year, with goods worth over £30.6bn exported, the chemicals and mechanical equipment sectors take second and third place with exports of £28.5bn and £28bn respectively. Today's trade data showed the value of automotive exports at its highest since at least 1998 (when the data series starts); the exposure of the sector to markets outside of Europe are holding it in good stead, around 45% of UK exports are to EU countries, compared with 70-90% for Italy, France and Spain, where the motor vehicles industry is looking less rosy.

The food and drink sector's output is mainly domestic consumption, with about 10% exported but the sector still boasts a healthy £16.8bn worth of exports in 2012, of which around three-fifths was destined for EU markets. Half of UK pharma output is exported and the sector runs a trade surplus with non-EU countries and a deficit with the EU.

Given the UK's governments target for export performance - doubling exports to £1trn by 2020 - let's look at how sectors have fared in the past ten years.

Percentage change in export value by sector, 2002-2012

Source: National Statistics

This is a chart I like - with nearly all sectors showing positive growth in the value of exports in the past ten years. Only electronics posts a negative change in exports, with 2012 values 39% down on 2002 values. Consumers demanding lower cost options has driven a lot of production to be located in low cost countries, but the UK does benefit from being known as a niche manufacturing location and has a competitive advantage in the production of precision/high value instruments, it also has a strong research community and is home to 40% of Europe's electronics design industry.

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Whilst I'm on the subject of exports - next week , 13-16 May 2013, is Export Week and UKTI are running events throughout the country to promote exporting to businesses. Seminars and events are being held to offer advice on how to go about doing business across the world, especially the fast-growing markets. Take a look at the dedicated website for more info and also follow #exportweek on Twitter.

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Senior Policy Researcher

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