Exports are growing but at a slower pace

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

The latest British Chamber of Commerce survey results which include Norfolk Chamber members, indicate that exports are growing but at a slower pace. The government must do more to help businesses realise their exporting potential.

In conjunction with DHL, BCC publishes a report every three months based on the responses of over 1,500 exporters to a survey on their trading conditions. The results of the survey show that exporters are facing a challenging time. Although the key indicators are all still in positive territory, which shows a welcome expansion, the results nevertheless point to weakening activity for exporting firms, with sales and orders balances down on the quarter. This downward movement for exports, domestic performance and weakening employment expectations indicate that exporters are operating in a difficult environment of continuing global uncertainties.

The significant increase in cash flow concerns for services is particularly disappointing; earlier this year other BCC research showed that the sensitivity of export performance to cash flow and access to working capital and unfortunately the situation hasn’t seem to have improved.
Despite these challenges, exporters do remain confident about increasing turnover and profitability over the next 12 months. Confidence remains firmly in positive territory for manufacturing and services exporters, with balances improving on the quarter. Other bright spots include falling cost pressures, improved domestic balances for manufacturing exporters and receding concerns about exchange rates. The fall in concerns about exchange rates is a slight mystery considering the recent strength of the pound. But this could be explained by a number of factors such as a delayed reaction by firms as they hedge against upward movements.

There is great potential for Norfolk businesses in the exporting market but they do need further assistance from the government. In the report we call on the government to ensure there is swift and easy access to the new funding package announced to expand the Tradeshow Access Programme and to empower the Business Bank to originate loans and lend directly to businesses. 

If you are an exporter or looking at the potential of international trade do review the export zone on our website

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