Exporters shipping on wave of confidence

Companies expect more overseas sales, but a rising pound could dampen enthusiasm.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2015

Exporters are feeling positively buoyant, with a record 72% telling a survey they expect their turnover to increase this quarter. They’re decidedly chirpier about trade than the Bank of England, which said today that it expects a lack of exports to be a drag on growth in the next couple of years.

Exporters’ confidence was also at a historic high of 72%, according to a survey of 2,400 exporters by the British Chambers of Commerce and DHL Express. Over a third of companies said they think they’ll increase staff in the next three months.

However, while exporters are feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, their confidence isn’t filtering through just yet. The volume of exports fell 3.1% in the last quarter of 2013 and was down 0.9% year-on-year. Sales didn’t fall for many companies though – 46% said their export revenues increased while only 7% reported a drop.

The BCC warned that more needed doing to reach the government’s target of £1tn of exports by 2020. ‘Everyone has to take responsibility and play their part – government, civil servants and business alike, so that firms can make some real in-roads in high-growth markets overseas in countries such as Mexico, Nigeria and Indonesia,’ BCC director general John Longworth said.

However, DHL Express UK and Ireland chief exec Phil Couchman recommended new exporters start out on safer ground in the USA, Australia and Europe. ‘They need to get their feet wet with markets they can deal with and then move on to China and other markets,’ he said.

‘Exports seem to be constantly on the up,’ Couchman added. ‘There’s no reason why 2014 won’t be another year of growth.’

However, with the pound spiking up almost 0.5% against the dollar to $1.653 after Carney ditched his 7% threshold for considering an interest rate rise, it might not be quite so easy for exporters to convert all that confidence into sales.

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