Government must do more to help UK exporters

  • UK trade deficit in goods and services was £4.4bn in April 2012, compared with a deficit of £3.0bn in March

Commenting on the trade figures for April 2012, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

The global environment will continue to pose serious challenges for our exporters at a time when they are trying to maintain their positions in international markets.

“The increase in the trade deficit was larger than expected in April. Underlying export volumes were down 7.1% on the month while imports fell by only 3.0%. The importance of one month’s figures should not be exaggerated as longer-term comparisons show that exports have been flat over the past year. This proves that our exporters are facing major challenges, especially given the increased problems in the eurozone and weaknesses in the global economy. In our recent forecast we predicted export volumes of goods and services to grow by a modest 2.6% this year. But on the basis of the figures published so far, it is likely the outcome will be weaker.

“The government’s deficit cutting measures will continue to put pressure on the domestic economy, which means that a lasting UK recovery will depend highly on increased exports, replacing imports with goods produced at home and increased business investment. The global environment will continue to pose serious challenges for our exporters at a time when they are trying to maintain their positions in international markets. British exporters have major untapped potential but the government should do more to help them overcome the obstacles facing them. Our businesses do not want handouts, but they need to see action which allows them to compete with overseas competitors. Clearer routes to market for state backed trade finance and the creation of a business bank would go some way to solving some of the problems firms currently face. We need to get behind our businesses and give them the support they need to drive an export-led recovery.”

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