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Export Growth Now Stagnant For 1 Year As BCC Sounds Warning On Trade

  • Proportion of UK exporters reporting increased export sales (29%) was largely unchanged for the 4th quarter running

  • Proportion reporting decreased sales historically high at 25%, also little changed since 1 year ago in Q1 2021

  • Exporters more likely than non-exporters to expect increases to their prices in coming months

A survey of over 2,700 UK exporters has revealed that export sales growth has been effectively stagnant for the past year. The BCC’s quarterly Trade Confidence Outlook showed the proportion of exporters reporting increased overseas sales to be unchanged from Q4 at 29%, while those reporting a decrease rose 1 point to 25%.

The data showed that manufacturers were more likely to report increased export sales than either business to business service firms (such as lawyers or accountants) or business to consumer service firms (like online clothing stores).

In past 3 months exports sales have…

Exporting manufacturers – 32%
Exporting B2B Services – 26%
Exporting B2C Services – 26%

Remained constant
Exporting manufacturers – 42%
Exporting B2B Services – 56%
Exporting B2C Services – 42%


Exporting manufacturers – 26%
Exporting B2B Services – 17%
Exporting B2C Services – 32%

Conversely, B2B service exporters were more likely than either manufacturers or B2C service exporters to expect profitability to increase in the coming year.

Over the next 12 months, do you believe your profitability will…

Exporting manufacturers – 44%
Exporting B2B Services – 55%
Exporting B2C Services – 45%

Remained constant
Exporting manufacturers – 29%
Exporting B2B Services – 29%
Exporting B2C Services – 30%

Exporting manufacturers – 27%
Exporting B2B Services – 16%
Exporting B2C Services – 24%

Responding to the findings, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, William Bain said:

“This data confirms our concerns – that for the last year there was a broadly flat picture for UK exports. This is in contrast with the performance of our near neighbours, with Germany’s exports both within and outside the Single Market steaming ahead by double digit margins and with trade losses from the pandemic already effectively recovered.

“UK exporters are facing the headwinds of higher red tape costs from trading with the EU, raised raw material pressures, and ongoing issues in global shipping markets. If we are to realise the aspirations of the UK Government’s Export Strategy then 2022 has to be the year where these structural factors holding back our exporters are addressed.

“Sustained export growth should be powering our economic recovery from the pandemic. Chambers and their members are already working hard to increase exports but need more substantive measures from Government now.”