7 charts on manufacturers' global trade challenge

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With just over a week to go until EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference #EEF2016 we’re going to be blogging with some key facts and stats to inform the hot topics for discussion on the day. First up is today’s blog on unlocking the global trade challenge.

1) Manufacturing is a highly export-intensive sector. Manufactured goods account for 45% of all UK exports.

UK exports (% by value) total, 2015
Source: ONS 2016

2) Of manufactured exports, chemicals account for the biggest chunk, at 23% of total followed by mechanical machinery at 17%. Linked to this, chemicals companies are also highly likely to be exporters: 61% of them sell overseas.

UK exports (% by value) total, 2015


Source: ONS 2016

3) A company with a turnover of £10mn is almost as likely to export as a company with a turnover of £500mn.

% of companies who are exporters, by turnover (£ 000’s)


Source: ONS, 2015

4) The UK’s export performance has been flat as a pancake in the last five years as the global economy has experienced crisis after crisis.

Exports of goods and services (£mn)


Source: ONS, 2016

5) Manufacturers continue to see expanding their exports as a key way to boost growth amid weakness in global economic conditions. EEF’s Executive Survey shows that selling into new markets is one of manufacturers’ top priorities in 2016, second only to increased investment in technology and innovation.

% of manufacturers citing area as a priority for their business in 2016


Source: EEF Executive Survey, 2016

6) However, manufacturers think selling into new export markets will be one of the most difficult things to do this year – 58% of those who plan to increase sales to new export markets say it will be their biggest challenge.

% of companies who said action would be a priority citing it as their biggest challenge to implement in 2016 


Source: EEF Executive Survey, 2016

7) In fact, the year ahead presents a range of challenges and opportunities, for example while 30% of companies expect a continued low oil price to have a negative impact on their business, 26% think the opening up of Iranian trade following the relaxation of sanctions could have a positive impact.

% companies saying they expected a positive/negative impact in a range of scenarios  


Source: EEF Executive Survey, 2016


Can manufacturing unlock the global trade challenge?

So, what do you think? Can manufacturing step up to the global trade challenge? Join us to discuss next Wednesday at EEF's National Manufacturing Conference or follow all the discussion on twitter @EEF_Economists and #EEF2016



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