South West bucks national trend with increase in exports

By Anita Jaynes on 9 June, 2015

The value of goods exported by companies in the South West rose in the first quarter of 2015 according to the latest official figures, bucking the national trend which saw the value of UK exports decline.

The value of exports from businesses in the South West rose to £3.578bn in the first quarter of this year, up by five per cent from £3.408bn in the first quarter of 2014. There was also a slight rise in the number of companies in the South West exporting to overseas markets, which grew from 1,233 in the first quarter of last year to 1,245 in the first three months of this year.

Nationally, the value of UK exports decreased by 4.7 per cent in the year to March 2015, while the South West saw a slight rise of 2.3 per cent.

Almost two thirds of exports by value from companies in the South West were to EU markets, 13 per cent were to Asia and Oceania and 12 per cent to North America.

Despite the modest rises in export values, the region continues to lag behind other UK regions in terms of export value. While the South East, London and the West Midlands account for 14 per cent, 11 per cent and 10 per cent of UK exports respectively, the South West accounts for just five per cent.

Commenting on the latest figures, Sharon Omer-Kaye, office managing partner at Baker Tilly in Swindon said:  ‘Given the recent Government drive to increase exports, the national decline in exports in the year to the end of March is disappointing. However, the South West seems to have bucked this trend, and we’ve seen modest increases in both the numbers of businesses exporting overseas, as well as an increase in the total value of exports. This is encouraging as the strength of the pound has made life difficult for some exporters.

‘However, there does seem to be a heavy dependence among local businesses on export markets in the EU, which brings with it some risks, so small and medium sized businesses in the region might do well to consider broadening their horizons.

‘Those businesses who are not currently taking advantage of export markets may also want to revisit their strategy. While it’s certainly true that exporting does incur upfront cost and risks, there are great opportunities for companies prepared to take the plunge and lots of available support.’