A couple of interesting surveys came across my desk recently. The first was undertaken by North West Business Insider, supported by Ernst & Young looking at international trade patterns for North West firms. View the survey here
I was struck by how diverse the businesses of the region were in their exporting. In 2011 just 31.6% of companies exported more than 50% of their turnover but this year that figure has jumped up to 36.6%. Whilst the EU and USA still dominate our exports, there has been a good increase in our exports to BRIC countries and, please here allow me to blow UKTI’s own trumpet, there has been a marked increase in the number of people seeking help with their export strategy from us, up in 2012 by 12 % to 40% of all respondents. Getting good advice is so important for new businesses and it’s good to see that generally firms are more likely to plan before embarking on their export journey.
The second survey was the UK Business Confidence Monitor produced by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), supported by Grant Thornton.
Good news that business confidence has improved noticeably in the second quarter of 2012. Despite the stereotypically view of us northerners as being a pessimistic bunch, this confidence is particularly strongly felt in Northern England and since the beginning of 2011 the North has tended to be the most positive of UK regions.
The ICAEW has been a very good indicator of future growth in the economy and correctly predicted the end of recession in 2009 and the UK’s present return to recession, so it is excellent news that they are predicting a return to growth in Q2 of 2012.
None of this will be a surprise to the exporters of the North West. Quarter 1 figures for 2012 have once again been a record for the region, up 7.2% on the same quarter last year. The North West exports more to China than any other region and it is now our 4th biggest market after USA, Germany and France.
We do well in those key emerging high growth markets but, given all the doom and gloom we constantly hear about Europe we continue to grow our sales to Germany, France, Netherlands and Belgium. Just under 50% of our exports are to the EU, making the region slightly less reliant on it than others but it remains significant and is still the market of choice for new exporters – and rightly so.