UK manufacturers bucking export trend BCC report says

21 May 2015

UK manufacturers are starting to reap rewards from Britain’s drive to increase exports, a new report from British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), issued for Export Week, says.

Manufacturing exporters reported strong growth in export orders and sales in Q1 2015, according to the Quarterly International Trade Outlook report issued by BCC and DHL Express.

A total of 46% of manufacturers reported increased export orders in Q1, compared to only 36% in Q4 2014.  The survey of more than 2,300 exporting businesses also reveals that the proportion of service firms recording increased export sales remained at 33%.

Almost half of exporting manufacturers surveyed (44%) increased their labour force in the first three months of 2015 with the vast majority of new jobs (84%) being full-time posts - up from 61% in Q4 2014.

The report says that growth has been achieved in spite of increasing pressure from higher exchange rates, particularly the pound sterling rising against the euro, which reached a seven-year high in early March 2015. More than half of manufacturing firms (55%) said that exchange rates are having an impact on their ability to trade globally, compared to 48% in Q4 2014 and 34% at the same time last year.

A total of 43% of manufacturers reported an increase in export sales, up from 38% in Q4 2014; 38% of manufacturers said their cash flow had improved, up from 29% in Q4 2014. Meanwhile, 55% of manufacturers said the exchange rate is affecting their ability to trade globally, compared to 48% in Q4 2014 and 34% in Q1 2014.

Also, the index recording the volume of trade documentation issued by the Accredited Chamber Network increased to 121.43 in Q1, compared to 117.43 in Q4 2014.

BCC director general, John Longworth, says: “Manufacturers are turning to export markets as the slowdown in domestic growth persists. Encouragingly, the increase in export sales and orders has come about in spite of the rise in the pound against the euro - a credit to the strength and expertise of the UK’s manufacturing sector.

“However, real progress towards eliminating the UK’s trade deficit remains elusive. At the heart of the new government’s agenda must be ambitious plans to improve the UK’s trade performance. We have to develop a pipeline of new exporters and help existing exporters break into new markets. Only then will the UK regain its position as a trading powerhouse and unlock future economic growth.


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