Mixed results for South West in new Government export figures
THE value of exports from South West firms has dipped but the number of companies sending goods abroad has increased, new figures show.
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) said there is "room for optimism" even though Government statistics show the region's 2012 export total of £12.3billion was 1.16 per cent down from the previous year.
It highlighted the data, from HM Revenue & Customs, also showed exports increased in the last two quarters of 2012, with the fourth quarter exceeding the fourth quarter of 2011.
And while the number of exporters decreased in most English regions, South West exporters increased by 3.7 per cent.
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However, Ian Brokenshire, senior partner at financial services firm KPMG in Plymouth, said, there was still cause for concern. He said: "This final surge was not enough to transform the fortunes of the South West. Year-on-year our region's export figures can at best be described as flat, after posting a small fall on the goods sold in 2011.
"More worryingly, they reveal we're lagging behind other regions and export the least amount by value. I feel the region is not reaching its full potential and we need to support our businesses to help them target and break into lucrative overseas markets. These offer a major growth opportunity for the South West while the domestic economy remains sluggish."
Last autumn, Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade, urged Plymouth firms to boost exports, revealing a tiny percentage were exploiting foreign markets. A seminar on selling abroad was staged at Tamar Science Park in January.
Professor Julian Beer, Plymouth University's Pro Vice-Chancellor (Regional Enterprise), told The Herald the Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) was keen to "increase domestic sales and improve international sales".
Russell Jones, UKTI regional director said the 2012 fall was disappointing but improvements in the last two quarters showed signs of encouragement.