Latest figures show British exports are higher than ever, hitting a record of £630bn in the year to July 2018. Does this align with our readers?
There has been a number of government proposals surrounding British exports in the past few months; chiefly the Brexit white paper plan and the export strategy. Both of which manufacturers and just about everyone TM has spoken to is dubious about, but that is nothing new.
There has been opinions, expert analysis and numerous case study examples of just how Britain will continue to export in a post-Brexit world. It is safe to say, it has been a long couple of months digesting this, and there is probably a fair few more to come.
Because of this, The Manufacturer has rounded up the deals, opinions and proposals from key figures in industry that we’ve spoken to and strategies we have analysed.
British exports in deals, opinions and proposals
The Brexit white paper was finally published this summer, with Theresa May proposing “frictionless” trade between the UK and EU, meaning no tariffs on goods. This was largely welcomed by UK manufacturers, but negotiations with the EU are still pending.
Adam Cunningham, managing director of Muller Redditch, a leading precision machining specialist, said to The Manufacturer: “Any manufacturer who exports to the EU and further afield will be pleased to see frictionless trade feature so prominently, and this is something we would encourage the government to really champion.”
He added: “I dare say our competitors in Europe would probably feel the same, especially if a large number of their components are being shipped to the UK.”
Export strategy was launched
The UK government then launched a new export strategy last month aiming to increase UK total exports as a proportion of GDP to 35%. Our audience had different opinions on the reality of this strategy being implemented.
Christopher Greenough, commercial director, Salop Design & Engineering Ltd said to The Manufacturer: “With Brexit on the horizon for UK businesses, I welcome the fact that the government is now pushing ahead with strategies to support us. We need to look to new markets, and we need to export more of our goods, to increase these proportionally as a % of GDP.”
John Nollett, CEO of Pressmark Pressings, a metal forming specialist based in the West Midlands, said to The Manufacturer: “To be honest, it doesn’t say much. It looks more like a wish list and a statement of facts rather than a strategy. It feels like it has been written by people that have never exported and, in reality, it needs to be far more focused.”
From the automotive sector, to aerospace and food packaging, the coatings industry contributes £2.8bn to the UK economy and supports a wider £150bn supply chain. How will this industry be impacted?
Tom Bowtell, CEO of British Coatings Federation (BCF) said to The Manufacturer: “It is regulations around chemicals that impacts our members. The risk to us is, if we fall out of the European regime, it is going to become more expensive to buy chemicals in the UK, and it maybe even difficult to get hold of certain chemicals.”
Food and drink sector
Food and drink exports also hit a record high of £10.7bn for the first half of the year, this figure up 5% for the same period last year. However, in order to continue this success the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) called for more export support.
Export success for manufacturers
Grey Technology, known as Gtech, a UK manufacturer of vacuum cleaners and garden tools, achieved global sales of more than £17m last year after taking the Taiwanese market by storm.
Grey said to The Manufacturer that their now Taiwanese distributor, Kevin Quo, gave the Gtech Multi product to a well-known Taiwanese vlogger and subsequently “interest sort of exploded!”
H.Forman & Son produces artisan smoked salmon for top chefs across the world from London’s east end.
CEO, Lance Forman, said to The Manufacturer: “We export all over the globe and we have for 50-60 years, our biggest market is traditionally and still is the US. Now we are exporting more to China – I believe that will be a huge opportunity for us, and also luxury resorts in Mauritius and Barbados. There is a lot of opportunity.”
Joanne Moore, master distiller at G&J Distillers based in Cheshire, said to The Manufacturer: “The gin world has exploded in the last five to six years and it is going to continue to do that. Total spirits are growing, but what is driving that is gin.”
G&J Distillers produce around 250,000 bottles of spirits everyday and export to over 100 different countries across the globe. Moore said there is many opportunities in international markets including Australia, Germany and South America.
Sunderland-based Hyperdrive Innovation is a battery firm, which produce battery packs for a variety of electric vehicles, as well as offering energy storage systems.
Earlier this year, the company secured a deal reportedly worth £40m to enable Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxlink Group, to produce and market Hyperdrive’s modular battery pack across Asia.
Over the last few months, businesses have certainly seen export successes. However, the government needs to ensure that it implements its strategies in order to support manufacturers, instead of creating more hundred-page documents that aren’t executed.
Manufacturers are optimistic about their businesses and international trade, which can only be positive, as export figures continue to rise and companies gain more overseas contracts outside of Europe.
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