PAC probe highlights export gap

17 Jan 14
Chancellor George Osborne is likely to miss his target to double the value of UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020, the Public Accounts Committee has found.

It said today that, despite UK Trade & Investment and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office spending £420m to promote exports in 2012/13, performance still lagged behind Germany, France and Italy.

PAC chair Margaret Hodge said: ‘For the last two years, the annual value of UK global exports has been flat.

‘If the UK is to hit [the chancellor’s] target, then we will not only have to maintain our current market share in advanced markets such as the US and Europe, but also secure new exports to the new, faster growing emerging markets.’

The committee made a series of recommendations to improve UK export performance. These included better understanding of the reasons behind other countries’ superior performance and the development of a joint ‘roadmap’ by UKTI and the FCO to develop to support export growth.

‘UKTI needs to be a more effective source of intelligence on new opportunities in overseas markets,’ Hodge said.

‘It needs to get better at helping small- and medium-sized enterprises export more by supporting them in overcoming the barriers they face.’

Between 2000 and 2012, the annual value of UK exports nearly doubled. However, over the same period, the annual value of exports globally nearly trebled.

A government spokeswoman said it made ‘no apology’ for setting such a stretching target on exports.

She went on: ‘We are shifting our focus towards targeting high-value opportunities, providing more support and advice for UK small and medium sized businesses, establishing a global business network and opening British Business Centres in key markets across the world including India, China and UAE.

‘Since 2010 exports to China have increased by 91% and exports to Russia are up by 118%. However we want to go even further and UKTI will work with the Foreign Office to implement the recommendations of the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee.’


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