UK lagging behind its neighbouts
The UK is lagging behind its European neighbours when it comes to exports. The government has introduced a major reform of how British products and services are promoted abroad, with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) at the heart of the ambitious plan. One of the aims is to boost exports by focusing on digital initiatives.
The UK government has set an ambitious export target, it wants to double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 at the same time as the world economy is shakily shrinking and the prospect of a BREXIT hangs over the UK. A far-reaching reform of UKTI means the export agency will now work more closely with other government departments.
Make the UK easier to do trade with
UK Trade Minister Lord Maude wants to make the UK the easiest country in the world to do trade with. According to a government press release this will be achieved by making it easier, faster and simpler for more UK businesses to start exporting, generating a more vibrant export support marketplace, and giving more financial support to exporters.
In an interview with The Telegraph Lord Maude, a former Europe minister under Margaret Thatcher, argued that the target is a useful recognition of the fact that UK punches below its weight in export markets and badly needs to improve. A smaller proportion of UK businesses export their wares than their French, German and Italian counterparts.
According to Business Secretary Sajid Javid the government needs to be mobilised and working to the same goal in order to improve the UK’s export performance.
“By putting a refocused UKTI at the centre of a co-ordinated cross-government approach relevant departments will share expertise to get UK businesses exporting”, says Javid.
A digital strategy is needed
To increase the value of exports, UKTI will concentrate resources on those markets and sectors in which the UK is or can be a strong competitor. It will also bring together the best of public and private sector experience to develop targeted export campaigns connecting international demand to UK supply.
The UKTI headquarters will also be redesigned and serve as a strategic hub for all export initiatives. UKTI will focus heavily on transforming its digital service and is now developing a single digital platform to help businesses find the export information, support, and advice they need, be it from government or private sector providers.
Performance will be focused on measuring the volume and value of exports delivered. UK exports of goods and services amounted to £515bn in 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics. Last July, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that total exports of goods and services will be £630bn in 2020 – a third less than the Government’s target, reports The Telegraph.
And while the export boosting noises coming from the government might be positive, the Chancellor George Osborne cut the budget for the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills by 17pc in the Autumn Statement, making UKTI smaller.