Export Week, Number crunching and ..oh, yes...Europe
After Export Week in May, when 130 businesses from across the East of England attended an array of events focussing on exports to countries including Brazil, China, India, Nigeria and Turkey, the trade figures for the period to end March 2013 confirm the rebalancing towards non-EU markets.
Exports to the EU 27 - soon to be 28 of course - are down 14.4 per cent at £15.55bn but - and it's a big but - exports to other markets rose 10.2 per cent year on year and now stand at £11.73bn.
The rise in East of England exports outside the EU was well over twice the national average, with particular highlights being a 33 per cent rise in exports to Nigeria, 20 per cent to Hong Kong, 12 per cent to India, 11 per cent to Australia and nine per cent to China.
The US remains our most important single overseas sales destination with exports growing by over a quarter year on year. This fantastic result is underpinned by growing links between some of the region’s top innovators and their American counterparts and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and US looks set to reinforce these existing strong bonds.
The agreement has been described as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to free up trade between the world’s two largest trading blocs that together account for one third of global trade. A successful deal would offer as much as £10 billion to the British economy, £100 billion to EU gross domestic product (GDP) and £80 billion to US GDP.
So those are the numbers, and the story is pretty clear. But although the big export wins are undoubtedly in markets further afield, I wouldn't write off our near neighbours just yet. With an economy bigger than the US and Russia combined and 22 European countries in the top 50 for ease of doing business, the EU is still the place to start for many of the new exporters we want to encourage.
The region sold £3.3bn-worth of goods to Germany last year and I learned the other day that the Czech republic is among a number of profitable European export markets for A Touch of Ginger, one of our local export - and manufacturing - success stories. The headlines about European economies might make gloomy reading but there are still plenty of East of England companies doing good business in the EU.
I met Jane Moran from A Touch of Ginger at a business conference organised by the ICAEW at Duxford on 13 June, when we shared a speaking slot. Also on the agenda for that event was a great talk about a research project on Formula One Racing from Professor Mark Jenkins of Cranfield School of Management.
Professor Jenkins offered some very valuable lessons on innovation, process integration and organisational culture, and in terms of carrying out the research - well, it must have been a tough assignment but someone had to do it!
So, to sum up, there's a lot to be pleased about in the latest trade figures but we need to keep our foot on the gas. Starting with the NERVE conference next week our events programme at UKTI will include sessions on how to enhance your web based business through Search Engine Optimisation, events on Australia, South Africa and India, a trade mission to Russia and workshops to help non-exporting companies decide whether they are ready to start selling overseas.
Our trade minister Lord Green, will visit the region and we're planning an even bigger and better Export Week for November. To keep up to date with all that is happening , sign up for our newsletter at //mce_host/info [at] uktieast.org.uk%20" target="_blank">info [at] uktieast.org.uk//mce_host/info [at] uktieast.org.uk%20" target="_blank"> – and watch this space!