Yorkshire has long been a successful exporter. Today, more and more local companies are seizing the enormous global opportunities which exist across the world. Yet, more can be done to fulfill Yorkshire’s potential.
One hundred years ago, the UK was the largest exporter into Brazil and you can still find Made in Yorkshire stamps on key infrastructure including railways. Since then, our market share in Latin America has fallen significantly.
Today, the Department for International Trade is taking particular effort to support the export of Yorkshire products and services in Latin America and other growing markets once again.
I recently visited Leeds-based Optare, a successful bus design an manufacturing company which, after refreshing its export strategy, won a £20m contract to supply buses to New Zealand and another contract to supply 30 light buses to Hong Kong.
But Yorkshire doesn’t just export engineering know-how, it is also home to some of Britain’s biggest food and drink brands such as Party Rings, Jelly Babies and of course Yorkshire Tea.
According to the latest HMRC figures, total goods exports from Yorkshire and the Humber hit double digit growth in 2017, increasing significantly by 14 per cent to a total of £16.8bn.
We now have a growing number of companies who are exporting abroad. Over 9,900 Yorkshire companies exported last year, providing products ranging from specialist construction equipment to food and drink.
In my constituency of Beverley and Holderness, we are now seeing the success of companies such as Great Newsome Brewery with their successful range of beers and ales.
Latest figures show exports of food and drink in Yorkshire and the Humber have risen to almost £1bn, an increase of 13 per cent over the past year with beverages alone accounting for £57m of this total.
There has been a surge in Yorkshire exports to the Middle East, with 33 per cent more food and drink exported to the UAE. Exports to Japan grew by six per cent, a market considered to be a growing opportunity for UK food and drink businesses. Yorkshire food and drink businesses like those from the rest of the country are being promoted through the Food is GREAT campaign.
Small businesses are at the heart of this drive to grow our exports and I want to see more success stories like Red Herring Games in Grimsby which has transformed its business to satisfy global demand. Established 10 years ago in managing director Jo Smedley’s spare room, the company now sells a range of 146 dinner party and murder mystery games across the globe. In 2016, 50 per cent of the company’s revenue was through exporting.
Across the world, consumers admire the creativity, quality and ingenuity of Yorkshire-made goods. For those who are considering exporting, help is instantly accessible from my department, with a series of online tools available at great.gov.uk, including a matching tool, which couples supply and demand by connecting UK businesses and their products with promising global markets.
This year’s England World Cup football squad had seven Yorkshire players, and at the last Olympics, Yorkshire would have ranked 17th in the world if it were a country, while at London 2012 Australia could only better Yorkshire by one gold medal.
From sporting success to growing exports, Yorkshire has an enormous amount to offer. Our region is famous both for its natural beauty and the warmth of its welcome and I am delighted to be able to promote and support Yorkshire companies in doing business, growing exports and creating local jobs and prosperity.
Graham Stuart is a Trade Minister and Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness.