In our video ‘Britain in the race to export’ – released in October 2013 – we explained why British businesses are in an ideal position to make 2014 their year to go (or grow) global.
In short, the internet and logistics connections have made it easier than ever to trade with other countries and with ‘Brand Britain’ symbolising quality around the world, British companies have a unique advantage in taking or expanding their business beyond the UK.
But what did 2014 actually bring for Britain’s exporters? Here is our overview.
Britain’s economy is finally stronger than before the recession
One of the key economic projections for 2014 was that by Q3 of the year (which we included in our follow-up video – ‘Join the Global Export Race!’), the UK’s growth would exceed 2007 levels for the first time since the recession.
In July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures confirming that the UK economy was experiencing balanced growth and was on track for 3.0 per cent year on year growth. In August, the CBI reported that output and orders for Britain’s SMEs are on the rise and in October, the IMF released a report projecting even better 2014 growth figures of 3.2 per cent.
The UK is a world leader economically….
Britain’s growth in 2014 wasn’t just spectacular in terms of the country’s own previous economic performance – according to current estimates, the UK has been the fastest-growing G7 economy this year. This was projected in July and reconfirmed by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement on 3 December.
For reference, the US economy is likely to have grown 2.2 per cent this year, Canada 2 per cent and Germany 1.8 per cent.
…and in terms of other criteria
In May, accountancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) ranked London as the world’s most influential city. Of the ten assessment criteria, London also ranked highest in ‘technology readiness’, ‘city gateway’ and ‘economic clout’.
In November, the Legatum Institute determined that the UK is the world’s leader in terms of international Internet connections and entrepreneurship and DHL’s Global Connectedness Index ranked the UK as the world’s most broadly connected country.
Emerging and advanced economies continue to offer opportunities for British businesses
One of our focus points is helping British businesses understand and tap into the tremendous international trade opportunities offered by emerging markets. Unlike advanced economies, emerging markets are generally less saturated and have rapidly growing consuming classes with disposable income.
However, 2014 was not the strongest year for emerging markets. ‘Africa rising’ was subdued as many of the continent’s economies were affected by the outbreak of Ebola as well as political developments (though recovery seems to be on the horizon as demonstrated by Kenya’s recent infrastructure initiatives). The BRIC economies, identified as the breakout economic superstars of the twenty-first century in 2001, have experienced a range of political and economic challenges this year; even China’s economic performance has been less spectacular as of late.
However, as we established in our September overview of where the BRIC and CIVETS emerging economies are now, these developments aren’t necessarily bad news for British businesses looking to trade with these markets. Their vast and continuously growing consumer bases will continue to offer tremendous potential for British businesses to export their goods to, or import products from, these markets. The Foreign Office’s £25 million ‘surge for growth’ programme is expected to make this even easier with concrete projects planned in emerging and developing economies to increase UK exports.
At the same time, advanced markets do continue to offer international trade opportunities for British businesses: the top 10 export destinations for UK SMEs are still the US, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, Belgium / Luxembourg, Sweden and Australia.
But we can do even better
Against this positive background, British businesses can still take more measures to make the most of the opportunities available to them – especially in light of current economic developments.
While the first half of the year was highly positive for Britain’s growth especially from an export perspective (as demonstrated by the QITO – Quarterly International Trade Outlook – for Q1 2014), the Q3ITO showed ‘strong if slightly subdued prospects’.
However, given the tremendous potential of British businesspeople, it’s clear that a few simple measures can help boost growth.
Part of this is more government support for businesses and exporters. Support measures announced in the Autumn Statement should make it even easier for businesses to go global next year, but it’s also clear that more businesspeople need to take the initiative – as emphasised at the International Trade Conference by Louis Barnett, Theo Paphitis as well as Anya Hindmarch. And according to the post-UKTI Export Week survey, most British exporters are confident about their prospects for next year.
So how can DHL help you make drive your international trade in 2015? We will continue to
If you have any questions about how to take your business global for 2015, contact our Business Export Advisors, leave a message below or get in touch through Twitter.