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Export statistics show opportunities but future remains uncertain


Chamber response to latest trade statistics

The latest international trade statistics show increased exports from the North East but also a potential trend of importing more products to combat possible shortfalls with the impact of Brexit.

This is the view of North East England Chamber of Commerce who analysed the findings.

2019 has started off on a positive note for the North East’s global community, with exports up on both the quarter, 7.3%, and the year, 4.2%. This was spurred by a 12% growth into our European market and 4.7% growth to our North American market.

The export total for 2019 Q1 stood at £3.5bn, while imports stood at £3.8bn, resulting a trade balance of -£274m. This import spike continues into 2019, with a 1.4% rise on the quarter and a 13% rise since 2018 Q1.

Jack Simpson, policy adviser, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “Growing Brexit uncertainty and threat at the time of a No Deal cliff edge on March 29th could explain the sharp rise in imports as businesses began stockpiling vital products, bracing for a worst-case scenario.

“The North East continues to outperform the rest of the country but is under threat by political instability. Brexit is a prime concern for global business, but issues around skills, investment and transport have been left by the wayside during the Brexit impasse. A swift and acceptable Brexit outcome is needed, so we can focus on how to develop our Global North East.

“Our own economic surveys show that global markets can be volatile, but prosperous. Political instability both at home and abroad has plagued exporting over the last year, but it is pleasing to see the North East has started the year on the right foot”

“The EU continues to grow as the region’s top export destination and this data should act as a reminder to those in Westminster how important it is, especially to the North East, to deliver a deal that preserves our trading relationship with our biggest and most important market”.

“Trade with our North American partners continues to grow, and it has been good to see the Chemical sector recover from its 2018 slump”.

“We have so many great and innovative businesses in our region and I am confident that, with the right support and conditions, these figures can grow further.”


-Exports totalled £3.48bn for 2019 First Quarter (Q1) (up 7.3% on quarter, 4.2% on year), whilst imports totalled £3.76bn (up 1.4% on quarter, 13.1% on year). This left a trade balance of -£274m.

-This reflects the national trend, which was up 4% exports on year (at £87.7bn), and 8% on year for imports (£127.9bn).

-Exports to the top market, European Union, grew by 12%, on the quarter, from £1.9bn to £2.2bn. Despite a 14.9% decline, Asia & Oceania remained the second market (£382m).

-Exports to Eastern Europe grew most by 15%, but only by £18m.

-Machinery & Transport sector remains the regions chief export, up 3.2% to £1.97bn, followed by Chemicals, which rose 18.2% to £781m.

-Miscellaneous Manufactures saw the biggest growth on quarter of 28%, to £259m.

-2,064 companies exported in 2019 Q1, 2 more than 2018 Q4. In the North East, value per Exporter averaged £1.7m, compared to £791k nationally.

-The North East export value was 3.97% of total UK export value.