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Exporters better-placed to ‘weather storms’ of 2021

Overseas sales of North West made goods will bring in £26.4 billion in 2021 according to a new study, which also shows that manufacturers who export have better weathered the challenges of 2021.


The study by Barclays Corporate Banking shows that, despite widespread supply chain disruption and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU, nearly 70 per cent of North West manufacturers with ten or more employees are currently exporting. 

In total, exports of British-made goods are expected to bring in £176 billion to the UK economy during 2021. Exports from the North West make up 15 per cent of this figure, putting it on a par with the West Midlands as the UK’s biggest exporting region.

Food and drink products are by far the country’s biggest selling manufactured product overseas, but a long list of other manufacturing sectors also have high export rates. For example, more than 70 per cent of manufacturers in the clothing and apparel, electronics, metals, construction and building products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, plastics, jewellery, and cosmetics industries are exporters.

According to Barclays, exporters have fared much better than non-exporters on average during the year. Nationally, over a quarter of manufacturers exporting overseas experienced ‘significant growth’ in 2021, compared to just 18 per cent of non-exporters. Exporters are also more confident about their near-term prospects than their non-exporting counterparts.

Richard Craven, Manufacturing Industry Director at Barclays Corporate Banking, said:

“The British manufacturing sector, like many others, has endured a tough year and around a third of our research respondents have been impacted by higher labour costs, higher material costs and other supply chain issues.

“However, exporters, more than most, have weathered the storms and are enjoying strong demand for their products in markets all around the world. Confidence is high and many firms are looking to exports to fulfil their growth ambitions next year and beyond.”

Among those in the North West who do not currently export, more than two thirds (69 per cent) aim to start selling internationally in 2022. If they do, Barclays’ predicts that this could be worth an additional £305 million to the region next year, rising to £2.4 billion per year by 2030.

Commenting on the findings, Mike Freer, Minister for Exports, said the government was expanding its support to first-time exporters:

“My department offers a range of support for businesses who want to take advantage of what exporting has to offer, namely our recently-published Export Strategy and new Export Academy which will provide guidance to businesses exporting for the first time.”

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