Earlier this week, the UK government launched a new export strategy aiming to increase British exports. With Brexit looming however, could this strategy improve trade?
The tactical strategy, set out by International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, aims to make Britain an exporting “superpower”.
Brexit is fast approaching and British trade hangs in a tentative state prior to the departure of the UK from the European Union.
Trade stability will be essential to UK manufacturers financially, as they look now to secure and strengthen relationships with markets outside of the EU, such as Asia, North and South America and Australasia.
The government’s latest strategy focuses on exports, and aligns to the industrial strategy, it looks to improve and support manufacturers and businesses. But could this strategy improve UK trade and even manufacturers’ financial stability at such a crucial stage?
Response from industry
Tony Hague, chief executive of PP Control & Automation, said to The Manufacturer: “Industry needs a long term strategy – not party specific – that offers genuine executional support for SMEs to either start exporting or increasing their export geographies.”
Hague explained that not enough is being done to support SMEs in realising their trade potential, and that as a country, manufacturers need to be competitive globally, he said: “We need to remove barriers, such as material and energy costs, creating a level playing field so that we can compete with the rest of the world.”
The strategy needs to support manufacturing businesses and remove these obstacles, but as it stands, it is a plan and therefore needs to be executed without flaws.
Hague concluded: “Brexit will almost certainly have a short term (at best) impact on European trade, but hopefully all of this will get resolved swiftly and with intelligence.”
John Nollett, CEO of Pressmark Pressings, a metal forming specialist based in the West Midlands said to The Manufacturer: “Exporting comes in many guises and from a manufacturing point of view we can export goods. To be competitive with goods, we need to have no tariffs and incentives to invest in the UK.”
Nollett explained that it is no secret, businesses can be more productive if they can be globally more successful through exporting, he said: “In effect this is what they [government] have said and are saying, but this is just common sense to business owners, not a strategy.”
Whether the strategy will just be another plan is up for debate, but the UK needs leaders to provide financial support and backing if it is to realise the potential of SMEs, and continue to enable larger companies to export globally without issues post-Brexit.
Case study: Taiwanese export success for UK manufacturer
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.
Revenue more than doubled last year, with over half of its international growth in 2017 coming from the country, according to Gtech.
Owner and founder of Gtech, Nick 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!”
In total, the business has sold 40,000 products in Taiwan, with most of these being its handheld ‘Gtech Multis.’