UK goods exports were just 4% higher in 2013 than in 2008, but had they grown at the same rate as world trade, exports would have been 16% higher.
To explain the underperformance of UK exports, Senior RBS Economist David Fenton has highlighted three essential factors to succeed: what you do (product mix); where you do it (geographic focus); and how you do it (competitiveness). The results show that to improve the growth of the UK export market, businesses need to reconsider where they export and how they do it.
The research reveals that competitiveness is the most significant drag on the UK’s export performance, but encouragingly UK exporters seem to be increasingly focusing on products where the UK has a competitive advantage. The UK exports more drinks, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pottery, glass and cars than the global average, all of which will improve overall UK export levels.
Geographically, the weaknesses facing many of the UK’s core export markets, most notably in the Eurozone, have also played their part in inhibiting export growth between 2008-2012. However, the potential opportunities offered by rising incomes and growing demand in developing and emerging markets means African, Asian and Latin American countries are providing increasingly positive contributions to UK exports.