The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with DHL, has produced its Quarterly International Trade Outlook (QITO) for Q1 – January to March – 2018.
The QITO report is designed to give British businesses a better understanding of international opportunities, with a focus on dynamic new markets. It also features a Trade Confidence Index, which measures the UK’s exporting health by analysing trends in the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce.
The findings of the Q1 2018 QITO report shows that in the manufacturing sector, export sales and orders increased, but in the services sector, they continued to slow slightly. The volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce increased by 2.24 per cent on Q4 2017 and stands at the second highest level on record.
In his foreword to the report, Ian Wilson, DHL Express UK & Ireland CEO, said that the increase in trade documentation resonates with the success they are seeing from UK businesses trading internationally:
“The opportunities available for UK businesses trading with Europe and beyond are incredibly strong, with e-commerce providing unrivalled reach to new customers across the globe. E-commerce is also an option increasingly being taken by B2B businesses in addition to B2C.”
Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said the latest QITO highlighted the recruitment issues currently facing exporting firms:
“Difficulties in recruiting the right person for the job continue to affect exporters of all sizes and sectors looking to expand their business.”
He also suggested that the Outlook shows reflected strong global growth trends. “UK exporters report that sales and orders remain positive and fairly stable, which is reflected in the higher volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce over this quarter.”
Trade Confidence Index
The Trade Confidence Index, which measures the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce, increased by 2.4 per cent on the quarter. The index now stands at 126.82, the second highest on record.
Britain’s regions and nations
Most UK regions saw growth in Q1 2018. The largest quarter-on-quarter-increases were in the West Midlands (8 per cent), the North West (6.6 per cent), and the South West (6.4 per cent).
Export sales and orders
In the manufacturing sector, the balance of firms reporting improvements in export sales over the previous three months was 42 per cent. The balance of manufacturers reporting improved export orders was also 42 per cent. In the services sector the balance of firms reporting improved export sales was 28 per cent. For export orders the balance of services reporting improvements was 25 per cent.
Trade and Economic Outlook
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is currently expecting world trade growth of 4.4 per cent in 2018. In 2019, the WTO is forecasting global trade growth to slow to 4 per cent. The UK trade deficit in goods and services narrowed by £0.7 billion in Q1 2018. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts global growth of 3.9 per cent in 2018. The BCC currently expects the UK economy to grow by 1.4 per cent in 2018.
The Q1 2018 QITO report includes fact sheets for Bahrain, Egypt and Kuwait. Each fact sheet includes an economic snapshot, opportunities for UK businesses, market strengths, cultural tips, and Customs tips.
Read the full Q1 2018 QITO here.