• 40% of exporters saw an increase in export sales over the last three months

 The fourth DHL/BCC Trade Confidence Index, a measure of the UK’s exporting health, reveals that exporters in the UK have seen increases in exporting activity over the first quarter of the year, with many businesses expecting the trend to continue in Q2 2012.

 The index, which draws upon a survey of over a thousand exporters and an analysis of export documentation (required of all UK companies exporting goods outside the EU), shows that export orders and sales have increased over the last quarter. Trade documentation data for UK goods exports in Q1 2012 shows an almost eight percent increase (7.7%) on the same quarter last year, demonstrating that growth in export goods continued. 

When asked about export activity over the last three months, 40% of businesses said they had seen an increase in export sales. When asked with regards to expected export activity, 39% reported an increase in export orders for the next quarter. The survey series shows that many exporters found last year challenging, with high input prices for oil and other commodities hammering many firms. However, the survey for the first quarter of this year shows that the price pressures are easing, and this combined with lower inflation could make it an easier year for many exporters.

The balance of firms reporting increases in export sales (over the last three months) and export orders (for the next three months) rose to levels last seen in Q4 2010. While it would be too rash to draw the conclusion that the UK economy is now firmly on the path to recovery, the data is encouraging, and shows that many exporters are more confident in 2012 than they were the previous year.

Commenting on the results of the index, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“At the end of 2011, there was a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the eurozone sovereign debt crisis and its impact on UK firms. But the beginning of 2012 saw some semblance of calm retuning which has translated into greater confidence and activity among UK exporters. Export orders and sales have risen strongly in Q1, and documentation returns are the highest on record. While it is too early to say this represents the start of a strong recovery, it’s fair to say that it is a reason to be optimistic - in particular contrast to some of the most recent economic data.

“Exports are vital to the rebalancing of the UK economy, which is why it’s crucial that we support firms looking to trade internationally. We must maintain the UK’s position as a strong trading nation. So making sure our business owners and exporters of the future are well-equipped with the right skills is key. Only by looking at international trade from every possible angle now will we have the building blocks for a vibrant exporting community in the future.” 

Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK and Ireland said:

"Despite the amount of flux in trading confidence and activity over the past year, this report indicates that there is light at the end of the tunnel for UK exporters. Both export sales and orders have strengthened within the first quarter of 2012, an increase after four consecutive quarters of decline.

"We have seen an increased demand for British exports to countries outside the Eurozone, with our greatest volumes going respectively to the USA and China. We are also seeing an increase in trade to the booming BRIC nations, including Brazil which has recently overtaken the UK to become the sixth largest economy in the world*.

"Yet more needs to be done. British businesses that are looking to export for the first time need our help, and we in turn must be prepared to support them navigating the complexities of new markets; from local nuances to complicated customs or shipping regulations.”


Notes to editors:

*The report also includes a full country guide to Brazil.

DHL/BCC Trade Confidence Index

The DHL/BCC Trade Confidence Index (TCI) is a measure of the UK’s exporting health. Through analysis of trends in trading activity and key factors of exporting firms’ performance, the TCI gives a truly comprehensive picture of the UK’s internationally trading business community. Indicators include those relating to employment, investment and confidence, as well as painting a picture of regional exporting performance.

1432 exporters were surveyed between 20 February and 14 March 2012.

Results are represented by either a balance figure or a pure percentage figure. Balance figures are determined by subtracting the percentage of companies reporting decreases in a factor from the percentage of companies reporting increases. Where a balance figure is positive it represents growth; where it is negative it represents contraction.   


DHL is the global market leader in the logistics industry and “The Logistics company for the world”. DHL commits its expertise in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services to its customers. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and about 275,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting climate protection, disaster management and education.

DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL. The Group generated revenue of more than 51 billion euros in 2010. For more information: www.dp-dhl.com

Media Contacts:

Liz Larvin
Tel: 020 7654 5813 / 07825746812
Email: l.larvin@britishchambers.org.uk

Lisa Morrison
Tel: 020 7654 5812 / 07717682221
Email: l.morrison@britishchambers.org.uk