By Margot James MP, PPS to Lord Green, Minister for Trade and Investment and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Trade & Investment. Follow Margot on Twitter.
Writing in response to Daniel Kawczinski’s piece for Platform last week, in which he criticised the performance of UKTI, the first point to make is that although Britain’s exports are improving there is still a long way to go to make up the ground we have lost in the last few decades.
The Government’s central strategy since 2010 has been to re-balance the economy, away from the South East to the regions, from services to manufacturing, from a ballooning public sector to a revitalised private sector, and from consumption and imported goods to savings and exports.
The trade deficit has fallen from 4% of GDP to 1% of GDP. Exports to the growth markets outside the EU are up 30% on two years ago. Since 2010 there have been 47 UKTI trade delegations to China alone involving 458 companies. The UK Automotive industry posted its first trade surplus this year since the bad old days of 1976.
So what of the specific criticisms Daniel makes in his article? Overall he is sceptical that Britain will meet its’ export goals of doubling the number of SMEs that export and he cites a low figure of just 25,000 companies exporting at the moment. In fact the current number of exporting SMEs is far more than 25,000, it is closer to 250,000. This is still not as many as in Germany and France, but it is a great deal healthier than the picture Daniel painted in his article.