Despite the fact that the UK is likely to miss its target of achieving £1 trillion worth of exports by 2020, the logistics industry should support the latest government efforts to encourage overseas trade. David Williams, managing director of leading freight forwarder Rhenus believes that the UK is sitting on an untapped reserve of exporting potential that could significantly improve the country’s economic performance.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that in October the UK’s trade deficit widened by £2.3 billion to £35.4 billion, compared to September 2015. Adding to the gloomy picture, exports of UK goods decreased by £0.7 billion to £23.5 billion in October 2015.
Despite these poor performance figures, Rhenus believes that slicker logistics is one of the keys required to unlock the UK’s export potential.
Commenting on the longer-term export trend, David Williams said: “Latest figures confirm that Britain is 14 years behind hitting its 2020 export target, a goal set by Chancellor George Osborne in 2012. But despite being behind schedule, the government continues to encourage export. In November it made a further commitment to get 100,000 more British businesses exporting in the next five years.”
The challenge of sluggish exports has been brewing for some time and ONS figures show exports fell by nearly £6 billion last year to £515 billion. This was attributed mainly to the strong pound and weakening demand for British goods overseas.
In November 2015, the government launched its Exporting Is Great campaign, trumpeted as the biggest initiative of its kind by Francis Maude, trade and investment minister.
Improving digital tools for companies looking to start exporting and pursuing free trade agreements to reduce red tape and cut costs of exporting by getting rid of tariffs, are some of the activities being actively pursued by the government.
However, Williams believes UK businesses could do more to help themselves. He said: “While the government is doing its bit – providing practical support and guidance – manufacturers and logistics companies alike could be more proactive when it comes to exporting.”
Rhenus has undertaken its own campaign to encourage exporters, placing adverts in various industry media and producing a series of country guides illustrating the various freight routes it now covers. The freight forwarder aims to provide the most competitive rates to encourage new exporters. Part of a global freight forwarding company, Rhenus can connect UK exporters to 390 locations worldwide.