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UNCTAD Stats revealed the UK is the 4th largest exporter in the world!

After what has been a few challenging years to say the least underpinned by Brexit, Pandemic, Wars and more, a boom in our export of services has helped position the UK as the 4th largest exporter in the world, climbing three places up since 2021 and getting ahead of France, Netherlands and Japan. 

The UK has been for years the 2nd largest exporter of services and between 2019 and 2022, exports grew by 20% mainly due to the growth in professional services such as research, consulting and technical and trade services. Worth noting though that on the service side, China has also registered an important growth and making headway to 3rd place ahead of Germany and tailing closer to the UK. China’s service exports have grown 56% in the same period.   

And what about export of goods? Goods continue to make a good proportion of our total exports but sadly we have seen a decline in contrast to the upward trend seen in services. In 2019, the UK ranked 11th and, as of 2022, it showed a drop to No.13th in the world. 

The UK’s manufacturing sector still is a major contributor to the country’s economy and exports; sectors such as aerospace, automotive and chemicals to mention but a few have been key drivers to UK’s export figures. In 2020, the UK ranked as the 9th largest manufacturing nation in the world and, as of 2023, it had dropped to No. 11th.    

Some experts are also cautious, indicating some of the ‘service led growth’ in exports come from the fact some of the manufacturing or distribution centres used to be located here in the UK, so whilst invoicing may still be happening from the UK, the reality is some of these centres have moved away from the UK -  creating new companies and jobs elsewhere. 

However, we must recognise that in a tough global economic landscape, the UK has shown a lot of resilience and ranking 4th in the exporting table across the world is still a big achievement, but we cannot rest on our laurels now.      

Recent ONS data also indicated that only about 11.4% of total enterprises in the UK actually export, so if we are to really drive innovation and economic growth, ‘exports’  must be at the heart of the government policy.     

The big £1 trillion export target placed by the UK Government, which once seem unattainable, seems to be within reach, and to maintain our leading position worldwide and continue our growth is imperative that public and private sector work in closer partnerships addressing the challenges and gaps which may be still deterring some businesses from jumping into the going global wagon. 

With an untapped export potential for the UK estimated at USD$234bn in 20243, it is imperative that we reach more enterprises and encourage them to grow globally. 

So whether you are a new to export or experienced exporter seeking to expand into new markets, there are plenty of opportunities for SMEs to large companies to succeed in overseas markets. There is no better time to go global than now!. 

The Chamber works closely with partners, both in the UK and overseas, ensuring traders get support in each stage of the internationalisation journey.    

We know that starting the journey can be daunting if you never tried it before, but there are so many reasons why going global can benefit your business, so do get in touch with our expert team! We are here to help! 

T:  0161 393 4314 

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