A new report by the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, suggests that the 13 per cent depreciation in the value of sterling since the EU Referendum, together with a strengthening global economy, is increasing demand for UK manufactured goods (https://www.eef.org.uk/campaigning/news-blogs-and-publications/blogs/2017/sep/the-latest-on-manufacturing-from-our-2017q3-outlook-report). This is encouraging. We need to boost exports. The UK has a current account deficit – equivalent to 7 per cent of GDP – exporting fewer goods and services than it imports.
However, the manufacturing sector comprises only about 10 per cent of the UK’s economic output. If the UK is to increase its export potential, then we will need to look to other sectors of the economy as well as manufacturing.
For example, take two quite different sectors – the creative industries and higher education.
The UK’s creative industries (including film, television, animation, music and video games) already produce £19.8 billion in exports; their propensity to export is high (95 per cent of games developers export); and the opportunity for further growth is strong.
UK higher education is another export success story. The UK is the second most popular country in the world in the market for overseas students (after the USA). In 2014/15, UK universities educated 437,000 international students (non-EU), representing £10.8 billion in export earnings.
As we develop the UK’s industrial strategy, we should examine the export potential of different industrial sectors and aim to remove the obstacles preventing businesses and organisations from growing, expanding and succeeding.