Trading Blows: Update on global trade outlook

PUBLISHED 03 Jul 2018


The past decade has thrown up quite a bit of turbulence for exporters. From wobbles in the global growth outlook to geopolitical tensions and from big Sterling swings to the emergence of more protectionist trade policies and that’s before we even get to Brexit and what it will mean for future trading relations with the rest of the European Union. Combined, this has left export growth, in the past ten years, running behind that seen before the financial crisis.

Last year, we took a look at how some of these factors had been shaping the fortunes of UK manufacturers. Our report Global Trade: run aground or structurally sound confirmed the assessment of many international economists, that both weakness in global demand and the emergence of a range of structural barriers to trade growth were putting a cap on the potential growth of exporters.

A year on, how has this changed? Our latest update Trading Blows, shows that the cyclical upturn in the global economy and a strategic focus on exporting amongst businesses has underpinned stronger trade growth for UK firms, but structural challenges – especially more protectionist trade policies – are still in play. This new trade climate as well as the looming EU exit date ups the ante to the delivery of a clear and comprehension strategy on export promotion – as promised in the government’s industrial strategy white paper last autumn. Our new report takes a look at the types of help and support UK manufacturers require when growing their international sales.

Increasingly, economic data is pointing to a less buoyant outlook for global trade than that seen in the past year. However, better collaboration between manufacturers and government to build the right support, implement the right export strategies and adopt the right approach to opening up new markets post-Brexit can help ensure our exporters contribute to sustainable economic growth.  

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