Manufacturing meeting the export challenge | EEF

Manufacturing: meeting the export challenge

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EEF and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) have joined forces in a drive to get more UK manufacturers exporting. Our export report lays out the benefits to companies of exporting and the positive impact export growth will have for the wider UK economy.


Export week in November and the ongoing Exporting is Great campaign are part of initiatives by UKTI to try and support companies to meet the challenging export targets set out by the Chancellor and the Prime Minister:


These targets recognise the importance that exporting has to growing a better balanced stronger economy. Expanding our exports would make us less reliant on growth of consumption and debt, while expanding the diversity of our export markets would make us more resilient to economic shocks in particular markets.
For business growing exports is important too. Exporters tend to grow faster, have higher turnover and employ more people than non-exporters.

According to the Small Business Survey 2012:

  • More than four in five exporters are aiming to grow their business over the next two to three years compared with 65% of non-exporters.
  • The mean turnover for exporters was significantly higher than the average.
  • Half of exporters expect turnover to increase in the next 12 months compared with just 37% of non-exporters.
  • Three in ten exporters had increased employee numbers in the past 12 months compared to just one in seven non-exporters.



However, while the target of hitting £1 trillion worth of exports is a great ambition, getting there by 2020 looks unlikely.

Value of exports £trn


This is no surprise. Since the export target economic conditions have been challenging. A scan of previous EEF Manufacturing Outlook reports reveals just how challenging conditions have been:

Indeed, as our blog from last Friday showed, exports to a number of the UK’s major markets have fallen, amid a slowdown in global demand centred on China.

The scale of the challenge is great. But manufacturers will be part of the answer.

Already manufacturers account for 44% of UK exports, and companies in the sector have not been standing still. Although the UK is sometimes seen as exporting less to BRIC economies than international competitors, even over the last few years our performance has improved. We now export more goods to the BRIC economies (as a percentage of total) than France does.

What is more, BRICs are not the only emerging and high growth markets UK companies have focused on – and, as the recent weakness in China highlights – this is a good thing. The UK punches above its weight when exporting to a number of countries: South Korea, the UAE, Singapore and Saudi Arabia to name but a few. What is more, our performance in selling to emerging and high growth markets is improving. The chart below shows exports to our top 20 key emerging/high growth markets as a percentage of total, and this has risen steadily since 2000.


Manufacturers can clearly be part of the solution. Click here to read our export report.


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