With the latest set of data showing the UK’s trade deficit has widened in March, experts are warning that local exporters shouldn’t be taken for granted as international trade networks come under strain.
The number of exporting firms in the UK dropped by 3% in March, with the number of employees working in export-related jobs also falling by 5.5%.
Total export revenues also fell by almost 4%, with Wales seeing the biggest decline.
The big-picture data isn’t too much better either with the UK’s trade deficit rising by almost £15bn to £25.2bn in Q1 2022 with imports rising 10%.
However, HMRC has urged caution on analysing the data and applying it to the business world as it has recently changed its methodology for collecting trade data. It’s also worth taking into consideration that this data set is the first since UK sanctions on Russia began in late February and March.
Commenting on the latest results, director-general of the Institute of Export & International Trade, Marco Forgione, noted: “The message is simple, don’t take UK exporters for granted. They rely on their international networks for their trade – and those networks are under severe strain.”
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He continued: “While the supply chain crisis continues, the Russian invasion of Ukraine adds uncertainty to an already complex trading picture. Relationships are fragile and UK exporters need help, support and guidance to get them through these difficult times.
“We reiterate our commitment to supporting businesses of all sizes through these turbulent times. Education is an essential tool to ensure UK exporters have the expertise to trade effectively, sustainability and competitively.”