The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with DHL, has produced its Quarterly International Trade Outlook (QITO) for Q4 – October to December – 2017.
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 Q4 2017 QITO report shows that in the manufacturing sector, export sales and orders remain stable, but in the services sector, the final quarter of 2017 slowed slightly. The volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce decreased by 2 per cent on Q3 2017 and increased 4.3 per cent on Q4 2016.
In his foreword to the report, Ian Wilson, DHL Express UK & Ireland CEO, said that DHL customers are experiencing positive growth in line with manufacturers:
“The Trade Confidence Index may be slightly lower than the previous quarter, but this remains an incredibly strong performance, at the fourth highest on record. The positive response from manufacturers is in line with what we are seeing from our customers, especially those in the e-commerce arena, who are growing quickly and looking to markets further afield to counterbalance the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”
Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said the latest QITO reflected the current climate for UK exporters:
“Businesses urgently need answers to the many practical questions which remain unanswered on Brexit […] including the potential changes to customs, immigration, standards and regulation, so they can adapt and have confidence to begin planning for the future.”
He also suggested that the Outlook, once again, highlighted the importance of fundamentals. “Getting the fundamentals right at home to support companies looking to succeed internationally […] removing other domestic barriers to growth such as high upfront costs and poor physical and digital infrastructure, would also support firms to follow their global ambitions.”
Trade Confidence Index
The Trade Confidence Index, which measures the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce, decreased by 2 per cent on the quarter. The index now stands at 124.03.
Britain’s regions and nations
Several regions saw a slight decline in Q4 2017. The largest quarter-on-quarter-increases were in Northern Ireland (12.3 per cent), the East of England (9 per cent), and the South West (5.6 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 43 per cent. The balance of manufacturers reporting improved export orders was 40 per cent. In the services sector the balance of firms reporting improved export sales was 27 per cent. For export orders the balance of services reporting improvements was 24 per cent.
Trade and Economic Outlook
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is currently expecting world trade growth of 3.6 per cent in 2017. In 2018, the WTO is forecasting global trade growth to slow to 3.2 per cent. The UK trade deficit in goods and services narrowed by £1.2 billion between October and December 2017. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts global growth of 3.9 per cent in 2018 and 2019. The BCC currently expects the UK economy to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2018 and 2.9 per cent in 2019.
The Q4 2017 QITO report includes fact sheets for Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Each fact sheet includes an economic snapshot, opportunities for UK businesses, market strengths, cultural tips, and Customs tips.
Read the full Q4 2017 QITO here.