Louise Punter looks at the opportunities created by international trade.

Louise Punter looks at the opportunities created by international trade. Click to enlarge

11 Oct 2012

The South East region of England accounts for 15% of the overall exports and with a total export value of £42.5 billion for the year ending March 2012, it continues to be the largest exporter of all the English regions. 

The figures have previously been collected by region and it is not possible to break them down to the Surrey level accurately but simply calculating the same proportion of exports as a proportion of overall GDP would suggest that the value of exports in Surrey is around £6.7billion. 6 of the 11 boroughs and districts in Surrey are in the top 50 Local authority areas for exports (according to a BBC report)

There is a misconception that unless you produce a tangible product you don’t have anything to export. Contrary to this less than 50% of exports are from manufacturers with services providing the lion’s share of transactions. The UK was, in fact, the second highest exporter of services in the world in 2010.

Quite a staggering statistic is that 1 in 5 businesses currently export and if this was increased to 1 in 4 the Gross Domestic Product would increase by 1.5% providing a further £0.4billion of sales in Surrey alone.

Clearly, as global markets grow with the emergence of less developed countries the opportunity for exporting also grows but there are clear barriers faced by businesses when they consider expansion overseas. Given the need to rebalance the UK economy towards exports to secure recovery and long-term prosperity, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) commissioned a major international trade business survey in Q1 2012 – to which 8,073 businesses responded.

Although the survey clearly demonstrated the positive impact on businesses that exported it also showed that a number of challenges, barriers and obstacles remain. It is therefore important for Surrey Connects to show leadership in helping to overcome these obstacles, working closely with Chambers of Commerce, companies and with Government, hopefully unlocking the potential of Surrey’s existing and future exporters.

A full action plan is coming together to improve information flow and to address barriers that are being faced by businesses considering exporting. Any help, which is already currently available, will be made easier to access. We encourage input from anyone who thinks they can have an impact on increasing the level of exports from Surrey.