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23 June, 2011 - 14:08 By News Desk

Germany pips US as top export market for East of England firms

Frankfurt Stock Exchange

A stunning rise in overseas sales for East of England companies has seen some unprecedented patterns emerge for Britain’s largest exporting region. Germany has overtaken the US as this region’s biggest export market. Sales by local companies in China are rocketing along at record levels.

The Netherlands market for East of England exports has grown more than any other single country’s. And local exports to Eastern Europe have increased by a staggering 101 per cent.

Eggs and baskets spring to mind. Local businesses have clearly widened their range of opportunities across a number of territories rather than homing in on one favoured marketplace. The latest figures, compiled for Business Weekly by UKTI and leaning on HMRC stats, at last demonstrate what a powerful trade bloc the extended Europe can be.

Seven of the East of England’s top 10 export markets are in Europe. Only the US breaks that monopoly while China and Japan complete the top 10 in ninth and 10th places, respectively.

The year-on-year figures benchmark the second, third and fourth quarters of 2010 and first quarter of 2011 against the same quarters in 2009-10. East of England sales to European Union countries are up 16.9 per cent at £14.82 billion and this region now accounts for 10.2 per cent of all UK exports to the EU.

Local exports to non-EU countries were 13.8 per cent higher at £9.41bn. So total East of England overseas revenues were ahead 15.7 per cent at £24.23bn and overall this region accounts for 8.8 per cent of all UK exports.

In terms of the industry sectors, manufacturing again flew the flag with exports up 21 per cent year-on-year. But it’s the territory comparators that are the real eye-openers. Local exports to Eastern Europe up by 101 per cent to £574m; to Latin America up 29.2 per cent to £346m; and to Asia & Oceania up by 19.1 per cent (£3.02bn). Compare those stats to a 4.8 per cent increase in sales to North America, to £3.27bn.

Stripping it down country by country shows a marked shift in the power base. Germany takes top spot from the US with sales of almost £3.28bn – up 14.6 per cent year-on-year. Our companies’ sales in the US were £2.86bn, an increase of 5 per cent. Third is France (exports £2.2bn, + 16.7 per cent) and fourth is the Netherlands (just under £1.8bn, +57 per cent).

While Ireland is the region’s fifth biggest export market with sales worth £1.6bn, that’s a drop of 1.2 per cent year-on-year, perhaps reflecting the struggling economies of the EU.

Seventh-ranked Spain is the only other export market where East of England sales have dipped – down 2.5 per cent to £1.08bn.

Between them in sixth and rising fast is Belgium. East of England exports there are worth £1.533bn – up 30.9 per cent year-on-year. Italy is in 8th (£1.002bn, +16.2 per cent).

Ninth-ranked China is surging ahead as a receptive market for the East of England. Our sales there were £618.3 million, and while that may appear modest it represents growth of 28.6 per cent on the year. Clearly there is much more to come for UK pioneers in the Dragon economy.

Despite various problems, Japan kept India out of the top 10 by taking £523m of East of England exports, an increase on the year of 8.5 per cent. Momentum across the board has been maintained at the start of 2011. For the first quarter of the year, East of England exports to EU countries increased 34.9 per cent on Q1 of 2010 while respective sales to non-EU territories were 18 per cent higher. And surprise, surprise – manufacturing exports for the quarter were up 30 per cent.

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