Exports driving growth for West Midlands GDP says bosses

X The Business Desk

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THE huge rise in the volume of exports from the West Midlands is helping to give the region’s GDP a significant boost, business leaders have said.

The West Midlands is one of the more enlightened exporting regions in the UK and its level of overseas trade is aided by a considerable contribution from the automotive industry.

Paul Noon, Regional Director for UKTI in the West Midlands, said: “The huge rise in exports from the West Midlands over the last three years is nothing short of fantastic and is giving a vital boost to the local economy.

“Our region shows the biggest rise in exporting of all the English regions over the same period, partly reflecting the drop in exports experienced by our manufacturing companies during the economic crisis, but it is our strength in these sectors and many others which is enabling us to see the large increase now, led by businesses such as JLR and JCB.”
He said there was a growing appetite for the goods and services produced by the West Midlands. While the automotive and advanced engineering sectors continued to lead the field in terms of exports, the region had also developed expertise in medical technology, creative industries and financial and business services.
“As part of our continued support to businesses across the region, we have events like Export Week coming up from November 11 to 15, where firms can attend a host of events and talk to experts both from this region, and from around the globe,” he said.

Trade visits are also planned to countries as diverse as the United States and Mongolia, together with Singapore, India and China.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said the value of exports to the region could not be over-stated.

“In Q2, the value of exports from the West Midlands stood at £6.6bn. UKTI services at the chamber assist thousands of businesses in exporting, and at the supply-side, the planned runway extension at Birmingham Airport is timely for businesses looking to export,” he said.

“The economic indicators are starting to show that the region is moving in the right direction, but it is crucial that this growing momentum is maintained to unlock the tremendous potential of Greater Birmingham.”

Qasim Majid, CEO of Birmingham-based WOW Internet said: “Three years ago we weren’t exporting at all. Now exports account for 20% of our turnover and that’s only going to grow. It’s excellent news that exports are growing so fast in the West Midlands.”

He said SME business owners needed to think outside the box and be prepared to look further afield to international markets.

“Being a UK business based in the Midlands, there is still a huge demand for British intellectual property as it’s considered in very high regard,” he added.

His firm has signed a partnership deal with a US world leader in cloud computing to help it grow in the Middle East. The deal with Rackspace gives Wow the infrastructure to provide its clients with fast, reliable hosting from a brand leader. Working with UKTI and Rackspace Wow now plans to strengthen its links with the UAE and Dubai in particular.

Fellow IT firm, Titania is looking to export its software to government agencies, business corporations and independent security auditors in 50 countries – including some of the most security conscious organisations in the world, such as the French MoD, Australian Air Force and the FBI. Overseas trade now accounts for 90% of the Worcester firm’s business.

Further details on Export Week are available by visiting   www.exportweek.ukti.gov.uk