Chemicals sales falls hit exports but exporters increase

THE value of exports from the North West has fallen sharply due to a drop in international sales of chemicals, but the number of exporters in the region has increased.

Latest figures released by HM Revenue & Customs showed a £1bn fall in value of exports in the third quarter of 2013 to £5.6bn, down from £6.6bn in Q3 2012. As well as chemicals there was a significant fall in exports to the US, which is a key market for the region.

The fall means that the North West has lost its status as the top region for export outside London and the South East, having being replaced in third position by the East region. So far this year the value of exports from the North West is £17.45bn.

The Government has recognised a need to increase exports – particularly to fast-growing markets and yesterday Chancellor George Osborne doubled export finance support to £50bn.

It was not all bad news as the number of exporters are up 0.9% in the year to September 2013.

The North West is one of only four UK regions not to experience a decline in the number of exporters this year.

The figures came as UK Trade and Investment – the Government department driving the export effort – said it was making progress on its latest Export Challenge to find 1,000 new companies in the region to begin trading overseas with its help. So far, after six months of the current period, 526 firms have begun their export journey.

Despite the overall drop in exports,  there were increases in the Benelux markets, with trade to the Netherlands up by 66%, making it the third largest market for the region.  Belgium and Denmark also increased by 17% and 4% respectively. 

In addition trade to Poland, Latvia, Czech republic, Sweden, Indonesia, Singapore, Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Algeria, Israel, Oman, Mexico and most sub-saharan African countries has increased.

Top commodities from the region are chemicals, machinery and transport, manufactured goods and crude materials.

The top five North West Export markets are Germany, USA, Netherlands, France and China.

Clive Drinkwater, regional director for UKTI North West said; “Once again, the dip in exports from the North West is due to a drop in chemical sales – if you look outside this sector we are doing quite well in general and our performance inukti clive drinkwater some markets is excellent, especially the Netherlands.

“Due to the way that sales are attributed (for instance, sometimes to the place of invoice rather than manufacture), the figures don’t give a complete picture of activity in the North West, and it is very encouraging that the numbers of exporters in the region is increasing. 

“However, it is vital that the region’s businesses continue to look for opportunities overseas.  I have been delighted this week to hear of North West businesses such as EDM, Jaguar Land Rover and Sweet Mandarin announcing trade deals in China worth more than £4.5bn as part of the current mission led by the Prime Minister.

“I am also extremely pleased by the announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement that the government is to increase export finance support to British businesses, doubling it to £50bn.”