Rising export markets give morale boost

Julian Harris
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BRITISH exports rose by 4.1 per cent (£0.9bn) in November, official data showed yesterday, as a separate survey revealed buoyant confidence among exporting companies.

Overall the UK’s trade deficit edged upwards to £4.1bn, but only because of rocketing oil prices and erratic items, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Excluding these elements, exports rose by 3.4 per cent on the previous month, while imports increased just 0.3 per cent.

Exports beyond the EU were slightly down in the three months to November compared to the three previous months, but still up on the same time in 2009.

“Exporters must reinforce their efforts to move into fast-growing emerging economies such as India and China,” said David Kern of the British Chambers of Commerce, commenting on the figures.

Goods and services exported to Germany increased by 10 per cent over the same period, according to Goodwin, as the German economy continues to thrive.

“The growth in export volumes was broadly based,” said Simon Hayes of Barclays Capital.

“Buoyant export growth was reported for basic materials and both finished manufactured and semi-manufactured goods,” he added.

The consistently high level of imports could also be interpreted as a sign of domestic demand holding strong, some analysts said.

And confidence among exporters for this year’s prospects remains extremely high, according to a survey conducted by Travelex.

Well over half – 65 per cent – of respondents expected their export activity to increase in 2011, the survey said.

And 59 per cent expressed confidence in current economic conditions, while three quarters “clearly rejected” any chance of a double dip recession.

However, importers are concerned about the impact of this month’s VAT hike, said David Sear of Travelex.

One respondent to the survey commented: “Tax hikes suppress business motivation, because the more money you make, the more tax you pay.”