Exporters mustn't underestimate their value to our economy. In fact, they need to do more.
Every time I drive down Speke Boulevard or the Knowsley Expressway, I see car transporters loaded with Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery models.
The sight of them embarking on the first leg of a journey from the Halewood factory to destinations all over the world never fails to raise my spirits.
It tells us that this city is connected with global markets and is supplying something that customers want.
Like the UK as a whole, we need more exporters. Why? Because exporting boosts productivity. Not only is there a whole host of academic research to prove* it’s also common sense.
In the face of global competition, businesses can only sell their products around the world if they are as productive and efficient as possible.
And as a country, we desperately need to boost productivity. It won’t be mentioned much during the General Election campaign, but the shocking trend in productivity per head in Britain’s private sector is the most pressing economic problem we face. It has fallen 4 per cent since 2008 compared with a rise of more than 8 per cent in the USA.**
That’s why I welcome the interim report of the Cole Commission on Exports and, in particular, its call for the issue to be at the heart of economic planning.
The commission, headed by Graham Cole, chairman of Agusta Westland UK, was set up by the Labour Party but its findings should be acted upon by whoever forms the next government.
It calls for big ticket projects to be handled by a merged UK Trade & Investment and UK Export Finance, while Chambers of Commerce provide a one-stop shop for SMEs.
Helping exporters is already a key part of our core business and we’re keen to do more. The message to exporters is clear – your country needs you and ought to be doing a lot more to help.
* Do exports generate higher productivity? Evidence from Slovenia. Jan De Loecker, Department of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University.
Does Exporting Increase Productivity? A Microeconometric Analysis of Matched Firms. Sourafel Girma, David Greenaway, and Richard Kneller.
** Thomson Reuters Datastream/Fathom Consulting.