CBI urges export strategy that plays to UK’s strengths

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THE Confederation of British Industry has called on the Government to develop a coherent industrial strategy to boost exports, particularly in fast-growing emerging markets.

Following official trade figures released on Friday, which showed a small rise in goods exports in September, the CBI highlighted the potential for £30 billion worth of export opportunities by 2020.

It is urging the Government to play to the UK’s strengths by focusing on “champion sectors”.

Katja Hall, chief policy director at the business group, said: “Official data has recently shown that more firms are dipping their toes into emerging markets but there is scope to make even bigger inroads.

“We are not talking about picking winners but tilting the playing field towards sectors where we have a real edge, including the creative industries and automotives.

“It is critical that the Government develops a coherent industrial strategy which could deliver a £30 billion export boost by 2020.”

The CBI is calling for the Government to adopt a joined-up approach to industrial strategy, with sector-specific action 
plans to maximise growth in key sectors and to ensure the UK does not fall behind its international rivals.

It has identified automotive, aerospace, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, agri-food, green technology and services, creative industries and knowledge-intensive business services as high-potential high-growth sectors.

The CBI published a report earlier this month on boosting UK exports. Parts of Yorkshire, including Leeds, have lagged behind the UK national average in overseas trade.

The report called for a more focused industrial strategy, a greater emphasis on policies that “tilt the playing field” towards the UK’s strengths, the delivery of sector growth plans and greater partnership working between industry and the Government.

Commenting on the report, Mike Wright, executive director of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The UK automotive industry is enjoying a resurgence, but we face stiff competition from large car manufacturers around the globe.

“If the UK plays to its strengths, setting the right conditions and developing the right skills for industry, we can thrive long into the future.”

Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive, Pinewood Shepperton, added: “In film, we are seeing high levels of inward investment productions taking advantage of our skills, talent, technology and infrastructure.

“Pinewood’s involvement in global box office successes like Skyfall and showcase those skills and talents to great advantage.”

Official data released on Friday showed Britain’s goods trade deficit shrank to £8.4bn in September from £10bn in August.

The quarterly trade gap shrank as well.