By Daniel Hunter

The latest figures released by HM Revenue & Customs have revealed exports from the North East have fallen despite an increase in the number of companies exporting.

During the second quarter of 2013, from April to June, the total value of exports from the region was £3.031 billion, compared to £3.141 billion in the previous quarter (January to March 2013) - a fall of 3.5per cent.

This gave a 12 month rolling value of £12.862 billion, which represented a fall of 3.39 per cent compared with the 12 months rolling total up to the end of March 2013. Nationally, the total annual UK exports decreased marginally by 0.1 per cent to £297.8 billion up to the year ending June 2013, compared to a 5.8 per cent increase recorded for the year ending June 2012.

But David Coppock, Regional Director for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) in the North East said that while the fall was disappointing, there was also good news as the region experienced the largest percentage rise, 4.6 per cent, in the number of exporting businesses, with signs of growth in some markets.
And he urged companies across the region to take up the export for growth challenge and follow in the footsteps of successful exporters such as Kinesio UK.

Kinesio UK produces therapeutic taping for the treatment of sports injuries and has been building on its success during the 2012 Olympics to expand its export markets. The trading arm of Limbvolume Ltd, Kinesio UK benefited from UKTI support on trade visits to South Africa and India in December 2011.

Since then, Kinesio UK has continued to liaise with contacts in education, international conferencing and distribution in both countries and as a result Kinesio Taping exports have increased by 76% over the past two years.

Kevin Anderson, MD of Kinesio UK, said: “Export for Kinesio UK remains a key growth area. We are very encouraged by our sales figures since 2011.”

According to the latest quarterly figures the Netherlands is once again the largest single market for North East goods with £1.531 billion exported in the 12 months up to June 2013. The USA has now dropped to third place with £1.108 billion worth of goods export from the region and France has moved up to second with £1.130 billion.

Exports to 11 of the region’s top 20 markets grew during the past 12 months and Thailand was again the region’s fastest growing market with an increase of £635 million or 533 per cent, to give a total of £754 million. Turkey saw an increase of £150 million or 34 per cent to give a total of £582 million; Norway saw an increase of £23 million or 12 per cent to give a total of £214 million and Sweden saw an increase of £30 million or 11 per cent to give a total of £292 million.

Exports of Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material showed strong growth of 99.09 per cent, to give a total of £1.742 billion.

Among the top five standard industrial classification divisions, exports of Iron and Steel recoded 173 per cent growth, giving a total of £1.276 billion but there were falls in road vehicles, -12.53 per cent to £4.863 billion; Medicinal and Pharmaceutical, -31.62 per cent to £1.707 billion; Power generating machinery, - 20.84 per cent to £736 million and Organic chemicals, -4.7 per cent to £763 million.

Commenting on the figures, David Coppock, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Regional Director said: “Obviously we’re disappointed that the figures show a fall in the value of goods exported from the North East, but the region still has a positive balance of trade which means we’re exporting more than we’re importing.

“I’m also pleased to see that the number of companies exporting has increased and we’re working hard to boost this number further and aim to create 500 new SME exporters in the region by 2015.

“The figures also show that there are still signs of growth in many markets and sectors. Although we’ve seen a big decline in the region’s exports to the USA, we’ve had increases in the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy and we’ve seen strong growth in exports of manufactured goods.

“Kinesio UK Ltd is a great example of how the Olympic legacy is benefitting the economy and I hope the company’s ongoing success will inspire and encourage others to take up the export for growth challenge.

“As part of UKTI’s own efforts to help companies do this, we will be following up on the success of our Export Week in May with another programme of events in November to help companies find out about the myriad opportunities overseas markets offer and how they can make the most of them.

“Encouraging new investment and exports is crucial to the success of the Government’s Plan for Growth, which has set ambitious targets to more than double the value of exports to £1 trillion by 2020. And we will be continuing our efforts, working closely with partners across the region, to encourage more North East companies to take up the export for growth challenge and support them every step of the way.”

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