UK Attempts to Strengthen its Manufacturing Sector & Overseas Trade

The UK government has just released its plan to provide a boost to the country’s annual exports by £1 trillion at the end of the decade. The “Made in the UK Sold to The World” plan is designed to help UK companies capture new opportunities in global and international markets.

As part of the new plan, UK government agencies, like the UK Export Finance, will offer new services to help UK exporters and companies to secure business overseas. There will also be a new UK trade show program to give UK companies assistance in showcasing their products at international and global events. But the task has acquired a new urgency, because in other rich countries, exports have recovered more quickly from coronavirus-related lockdowns.

In the last year, the UK exported around £600bn in goods and services, however, only one in 10 British firms currently trades overseas. International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, stated that it is “vital” for British companies to “unleash their full exporting potential”.

“Businesses have been tackling head-on the challenges Brexit has thrown at them for the best part of five years,” stated a policy adviser at the Institute of Directors, Emma Rowland. There were new opportunities across the world, but EU member states should not be overlooked, as they remained the UK’s largest export markets, she said.

However, the context the government does not mention is Brexit. It is much harder to export to the European Union (EU) under the UK’s new free trade deal than it was in the single market. Meanwhile, the independent forecaster the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates exports to the EU will be about 15% lower in the long run.

“While there is significant potential for trade activity in the wider world, the government must secure a pragmatic solution to the challenges of exporting to the EU,” Rowland added.

“Only then will UK exporting be able to realize its full potential.”