The arrival of the summer recess marks a respite period for many (other than Conservative Party leadership candidates and members) from an intense period of policy-making affecting trade. As a new Prime Minister takes office on 6 September, the in-tray on international trade issues will be daunting.
The BCC’s quarterly Trade Confidence Outlook for Q2 2022 showed the proportion of exporters reporting increased overseas sales to be unchanged from Q1 at 29%, while those reporting a decrease remained at 25%.
This compares to around 40% of businesses consistently reporting increased domestic sales across the same time period in the BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES).
Business supports these efforts to develop an improved trade agreement with Israel to boost the supply of services between our countries.
There are also opportunities to cut the costs of exports and imports through strong digital trade rules and more efficient customs regulations.
Overall, on goods exports growth, the pace of recent progress is being maintained, although goods export trade with the EU was not as strong as in April 2022. Of concern is the widening trade deficit in the three months to May 2022 - which has risen on that measure on goods for four successive months.
The Spring Statement was a missed opportunity. We saw some support for business, but the lack of a clear strategic direction meant it did not give clarity or confidence.
This has to change as we are on limited time.
These negotiations are likely to be more complex than the others recently undertaken by the UK Government. But they also have the potential for a greater uplift for exporters across the UK, particularly in services and emerging technology.
It is heartening to see an increase in the rate of exports to the EU and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, continued progress is needed to meet the Office of Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecast of a net increase in UK exports of 9% across the whole of 2022.