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What’s holding back exporters?

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The British Chambers of Commerce’s latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook paints a rosy picture.

The survey, in partnership with DHL, measures the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce for goods shipments.

Although the volume of transactions fell by 2.25% in the last quarter, it still stands at the third highest level since records began in 2004.

But 68% of the 3,500 exporting businesses that took part in the survey cited exchange rate volatility as a concern.

The pound plunged against other major currencies following the EU referendum last year, providing a boost for exporters.

But recently the pound has been volatile, rising strongly against the euro in March and April before falling back, while against the dollar it rose sharply in May and July, followed by equally steep falls.

Recruitment difficulties are also affecting exporters, with 67% in manufacturing and 51% in services reporting problems finding the right people. Access to skilled manual or technical labour was a particular issue for exporters in the manufacturing sector.

Just over a third of exporters are concerned about inflation. Some 39% of exporting manufacturers expect to increase prices in the next three months, and the vast majority blame the rising cost of raw materials.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Exporters continue to put in a solid performance but are keeping a watchful eye on volatile exchange rates, rising inflation, and ongoing skills shortages.

“Many manufacturers are capitalising on the advantages the fall in sterling has brought to overseas sellers since the EU referendum. That said, exporters also tend to import raw materials and product components, and are concerned that the sustained depreciation of the pound may erode their margins.

Aeroplane“The recruitment difficulties facing firms reaffirms the need for action on the domestic agenda. Tackling skills shortages, and ensuring the UK’s future immigration system is responsive to economic need, will help boost the growth potential of our all-important exporting businesses.

“At the same time, a real push to provide firms with practical exporting advice and on-the-ground support, will put the UK in a better position to take advantage of post-Brexit trading opportunities.”

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Business Growth Hub can provide a wealth of assistance to new and existing exporters.

We offer half-day workshops, export masterclasses, a series of online video tutorials and an export documentation service, plus information on trade shows, introductions, export finance and discounted flights for exporters.

For more information click here or call Catherynn Dunstan on 0845 22 600 40 or email her at catherynn@cumbriachamber.co.uk

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

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