We Need to Get Better at Exporting... and Fast!
Posted on the 7 January 2019
Whether the UK’s exit from the European Union goes smoothly or sends shockwaves throughout the economy, international trade will remain key for the future success of British business - or its revitalisation.
The uncertainty, in many respects, is hampering organisations’ short to mid-term strategies and future plans for investment - as we often hear and read about in the mainstream media whenever an industry expert addresses the nation.
According to the latest research into the services sector - often considered the most dominant in the UK - activity gradually fell from the previous month. The Services Purchasing Managers' Index (IHS Markit / CIPS UK) showed a reading of 50.4 in November, down from 52.2 in October.
This latest reading was at its lowest since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit result, and there have also been plenty of reports into the manufacturing sector that indicate manufacturers are stockpiling their goods to counteract the uncertainty brought about by Brexit.
For entrepreneurs however, Brexit should be seen as an opportunity. Nobody truly knows what will happen after the 29th March, so it needs to be ‘business as usual’ until then, and throughout the withdrawal transitional period. The same should be said for exporting and unlocking new opportunities with the rest of the world.
It’s clear that there is currently a huge demand for British products abroad, and the demand is growing. Last year alone, North East exports totalled £12.9 billion, an increase of 8% on 2016.
Our region is home to a plethora of fast-growing, successful companies that are contributing to the resurging North East economy and making wider, meaningful contributions to UK PLC. However, according to regional figures, less than four percent of businesses in the North East export their goods or services.
There are plenty of ways that companies can take advantage of the opportunities available through exporting and international trade - whether by reaching out to the Department for International Trade (DIT), or leveraging expertise from people who have been there and done it before.
Contrary to the low levels of exporters operating in the region, 40 percent of Entrepreneurs’ Forum members are actively exporting and largely remain positive about their prospects.
Our membership comprises businesses operating across multiple industries and sectors; from engineering and manufacturing firms and marketing agencies to retailers and those in professional services. Each, in their own right, has the potential to export their services and products, with many doing very successfully.
Workwear supplier, MI Suppliers, regularly takes orders overseas, including in Australia, while Analox’s gas detection solutions are used worldwide and Francis Brown deliver its fabrication and engineering services globally.
Wessington Cryognenics produces cryogenic vessels for customers around the globe and is so specialised that overseas clients have included NASA, The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the United States Air Force.
These are just a handful of companies on our doorstep that are utilising international markets and growing their businesses through exporting.
In order to stay ahead of the curve, it is vital that people embrace, rather than avoid, the challenges brought about by Brexit. The same can be said for international trade and ensuring that crucial relationships are maintained and developed with neighbouring countries in Europe and further afield.
Entrepreneurs and businesses operating throughout the North East and the wider UK are the ones that are creating the jobs and driving growth that is necessary and will be so vital over the course of the coming months and years.
They require support and clarity in order to deliver these crucial contributions to the economy, so there needs to be more doing, rather than a downbeat atmosphere and scaremongering from the powers that be.