A survey of over 2,700 UK exporters found that UK export sales growth has effectively stagnated over the past year.
The UK Chambers of Commerce’s quarterly business confidence outlook showed the proportion of exporters reporting an increase in overseas sales was unchanged from the fourth quarter at 29%, while those reporting a decline increased by 1 point to reach 25%.
The data showed that manufacturers were more likely to report increased export sales than business-to-business service firms (like lawyers or accountants) or business-to-business service firms (like online clothing stores).
Conversely, B2B service exporters were more likely than manufacturers or B2C service exporters to expect increased profitability in the coming year.
Responding to the findings, UK Chambers of Commerce head of trade policy, William Bain, said: “These data confirm our concerns – that last year the UK export picture was broadly stable. This contrasts with the performance of our near neighbours, with German exports both inside and outside the single market growing at double-digit margins and trade losses due to the pandemic already effectively recovered.
“UK exporters are facing headwinds from the rising costs of bureaucracy associated with trade with the EU, increasing pressures on raw materials and continuing problems in global shipping markets. If we want to achieve the aspirations of the UK Government’s Export Strategy, 2022 must be the year that these structural factors that are holding back our exporters are addressed.
“Sustained export growth should fuel our economic recovery from the pandemic. The chambers and their members are already working hard to increase exports, but need more substantial action from the government now.