Efforts to get more South West firms to export are being stepped up after new figures showed the first fall in overseas sales from the region for more than a year.
Exports by value dropped by 3.3% in the third quarter to £3.32bn, sparked by a fall-off in h a fall in trade within the EU, according to HM Revenue & Customs statistics.
However, four successive quarterly increases mean the annual figure to September is a more encouraging 6.3% increase to £13.46bn.
The region’s exports now account for just over 6% of all international sales from England and 4.5% of the UK’s total exports.
While business with the EU decreased in the last quarter, exports to Asia and Oceania, the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa all rose. Exports to China alone increased by 13.7%.
UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) regional director Russell Jones said that while the fall from last quarter was disappointing, the annual rise was encouraging.
He urged to region’s businesses, large and small, to renew their efforts and take advantage of the support available via UKTI’s services.
“We may have seen a dip in exports since the last quarter but there are positives that we can focus on, such as the overall annual increase from the previous year,” he said.
“There is, of course, still room for improvement and we want to see more companies stepping up to the international trade challenge.
“I would advise companies to renew their efforts to grow their business overseas and take advantage of the many opportunities out there while UKTI continues to work hard with its many partners to help ensure they have all the support they need to succeed.”