UK exports fall to 'six year low'
The UK’s exports have fallen to a six year low and there are growing fears that efforts to boost exports are “going in reverse”, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
BCC Director-General John Longworth said that the UK has too few companies exporting goods and is not moving quickly enough to seize opportunities in new markets.
The skills shortage, infrastructure and access to finance are all harming export growth, the BCC's Quarterly International Trade Outlook said.
Wales (-13.3%), London (-7.8%) and Northern Ireland (-7.4%) saw the biggest decline in trade performance, while Scotland was the only part of the UK to see an increase at 2.2%.
John Longworth said that the UK is 14 years behind meeting its target of £1 trillion in annual exports.
He said: “Driving export growth is key to reducing the UK’s deficit and maintaining our global competitiveness. These figures make it clear that the UK’s export drive is at risk of going into reverse gear, precisely at the time when it needs to be moving forward.
“Many firms are currently operating at capacity and are in need of support to invest in machinery or staff. Those businesses considering taking the leap and breaking into new markets desperately need access to the growth funding and working capital to enable this transformation.”
The impact of the skills shortage was recently highlighted by ICAS CEO Anton Colella, who said it is now the “greatest barrier to growth” and the biggest risk facing British businesses.
Sources: BCC and PA