Quarterly International Trade Outlook (QITO) for Q1 2017

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Posted by DHL Express UK : Posted on May 19, 2017

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with DHL, has launched its Quarterly International Trade Outlook (QITO) for Q1 – January to March – 2017.


The QITO report is designed to give an insight into the confidence of British businesses that are trading internationally though the Trade Confidence Index. It also provides an indicator of ongoing international trade performance based on businesses’ export orders and sales figures. In addition, it aims to give businesses a better understanding of international opportunities, with a focus on dynamic new markets.

Overall, the findings of the latest QITO report show British businesses are continuing to see success from international trade despite political uncertainty. Businesses in both manufacturing and services are more confident that their turnover and profitability will increase in the coming 12 months. The volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce now stands at the second highest level since records began in 2004.

In his foreword to the report, Ian Wilson, DHL Express UK & Ireland CEO, welcomes the optimistic outlook of UK exporters:

“Despite many unanswered questions about what a post-Brexit Britain will look like, this latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook demonstrates that UK exporters remain optimistic about what the future holds.”

He also highlights, however, “that whilst businesses are confident, they are not complacent – with currency fluctuations a lingering concern […] there is an even greater imperative to expand the portfolio of markets businesses trade with.”

Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, sheds light on what is important to maintain this sense of confidence following the general election:

“The next government must work to provide businesses with the practical and pragmatic support that helps them build links and relationships with trading partners across the world […] Chambers of Commerce stand ready to work with government to help the UK meet its trade potential.”

Trade Confidence Index

The Trade Confidence Index, which measures the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce, rose by 5.5 per cent on the quarter, and is up 9.06 per cent from the same quarter last year. The index now stands at 126.55 and is the second highest level since records began in 2004.

Britain’s regions and nations

The largest quarter-on-quarter increases in export documentation were in Northern Ireland (20.7 per cent), the North East (12.8 per cent), and the West Midlands (9.6 per cent). However, two nations saw a decrease with Wales (-6 per cent) and Scotland (-6.8 per cent) dipping on the previous quarter.

Export sales and orders

In the manufacturing sector, the balance of firms reporting improvements in export sales over the previous three months rose from +16 per cent to +26 per cent. The balance of manufacturers reporting improved export orders rose to +22 per cent from +13 per cent in Q4. The services sector continued to show growth levels lower than in previous years, with the balance of firms reporting improved export sales rising from only +8 per cent to +10 per cent, while the balance of services reporting improved export orders fell slightly from +6 per cent to +5 per cent.

Trade and Economic Outlook

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is currently expecting 2.4 per cent growth in world trade in 2017. The WTO expects global trade growth of between 2.1 per cent and 4 per cent in 2018.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts global growth of 3.5 per cent in 2017 and 3.6 per cent in 2018.

Destination profiles

The Q1 2017 QITO includes fact sheets for Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Each fact sheet includes an economic snapshot, opportunities for UK businesses, market strengths, cultural tips, and Customs tips.

Read the full Q1 2017 QITO here

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