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The State of North East Trade & Investment – 2020/21 Core Statistics Book

Author - Tom Kennedy

Date published:

The Department for International Trade (DIT) recently published its updated Trade and Investment Core Statistics Book for July 2021, filled with information regarding national and regional trade performance. The publication is a convenient opportunity to take a look at the ‘State of Trade’ for the North East and includes information that covers most of the nation’s trade in 2020.

Trade in Goods

In 2020, the North East continued its long-standing position of having the lowest number of exporting businesses, but having the highest average value of exports per exporter of all English regions. In total, 2,661 businesses exported goods from the North East in 2020, out of a total of 149,531 exporters across the entire United Kingdom. The total value of North East goods exports in the same year was £11.7bn. The value of Yorkshire and Humber goods exports in 2020 was only £14.6bn, despite having almost four times the number of exporting companies than the North East (9,247 exporters).

This trend is mirrored in import statistics, with the North East importing more goods, per business, than any other English region. 4,386 businesses in the North East imported goods in 2020, with a total value of £12.4bn. Both of these figures were the lowest of all English regions.  

Expanding the North East’s export base remains a key challenge for the region’s future trading success, and will be a key metric to assess Governments’ ‘levelling up’ attempts.  

Trade in Services

When it comes to services statistics, they only available up to 2018 but the North East had 2,300 firms involved in the export of services, excluding financial services. The share of North East exporting companies was only 1.6 % of the total number of UK service exporters – the smallest contribution made by all British regions.

The North East’s services imports were worth a total of £5.7bn, contributing just 2.9% of the UK’s total service imports. In the region, 1,600 firms imported services in 2018, only 1.4% of the total number of UK services importers (111,900)  – the same level as Wales.    

Foreign Direct Investment

Between 2020-21, the North East saw 51 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects which created 1373 jobs. The UK as a whole saw 1,538 FDI projects which were responsible for 55,319 new jobs.

As a percentage of the total labour market, the North East has seen greater job creation from FDI projects than all other English regions, meaning that any changes that result in the UK being a less attractive place for foreign capital to invest, will present a disproportionately large risk for the North East.

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