UK Exporters Experience Slow Rise in Activity

New report shows modest growth in UK exports and business confidence in the first quarter of 2016....

UK Exporters Experience Slow Rise in Activity

The number of UK businesses reporting an increase in export orders and confidence grew moderately in the first quarter of 2016, following a drop at the end of 2015, according to a report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and DHL.

The latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook (QITO) found that the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce rose by 1.4% in January to March 2016, compared with the previous quarter, to stand at an index of 116.04.

Despite the positive trend in exports and business confidence, when looking at the figures in annual terms, there was a decline of 4.4% on the first quarter of 2015.

There were also clear industry differences in exporting sales in the first quarter of 2016. Among manufacturing exporters, the balance of firms reporting improvements in export sales over the first three months of the year rose from +1% in the final quarter of 2015 to +8 in the first quarter of 2016.

In contrast, export sales growth dipped in the services sector, where the balance of service firms reporting improved export sales fell two points to +13%. However, export orders rose to +16% from +9%.

Businesses in Scotland witnessed the lowest export sales growth since the third quart of 2009 while businesses in the North East and Northern Ireland reached record highs for their areas.

Dr Adam Marshall, acting director general of the BCC, said: “Our latest analysis suggests that, despite efforts from businesses and government alike, we are not yet succeeding in transforming the UK’s export performance.

“Although we saw a gentle rise in confidence and export orders this quarter, these improvements were from a low base. Manufacturers in particular have seen a long period of slowing export growth. Businesses and government will need to work together to nurture stronger export performance – a job that will take a decade or more to see through to fruition.”

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