Miranda Dobson

North East exports reach record heights

Exports in the North East of England have reached a record high for the year up to the end of September.

The latest figures from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) showed that exports in the region totalled a record £14.125bn, and showed a 6.72% increase year-on-year.

UKTI has also pledged £70m of investment into the region, which was announced on Wednesday as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

In comparison to the rest of the UK, the North East fared extremely well, as exports in the country as a whole fell by 0.41%.

One Billingham-based company, AES Digital Solutions, which specialises in software, worked alongside UKTI in the North EASt to capitalise on growing markets overseas.

AES Digital Solutions, which was established in 1992, used the Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth schemes to gain customers in the U.S and learn about the market in North America.

The firm’s managing director, Joe Telford was also offered a Kellogg Business School Scholarship at Northwestern University in Chicago, which gave AES Digital Solutions a significant boost.

Mr Telford commented: “The whole process was well supported by our local UKTI team in the North East and the consulate staff in Chicago and I’ve already put some of what I’ve learned into practice while visiting customers in the Midwest.

“We’ve already secured one new contract as a result and have another that we’re working on.”

Other North East firms have been encouraged to follow AES Digital Solution’s example, and take advantage of the area’s manufacturing capabilities and ports to export to foreign companies.

Thailand was singled out as a fast growing market for the North East, with a 1147% increase in exports to the country, worth £318.5m.

Russia, Canada and Australia were also identified as key targets for exports, with the total value goods exported coming to £1.3bn, £237.7m and £323.9m respectively.

The iron and steel industries in particular are key players for the North East, and exports increased by 78% in the last 12 months, to give a total of £683m, while specialised machinery improved by 5.4%, organic chemicals were up 3.3% and medical and pharmaceutical products increased by 4.6%.

David Coppock, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) regional director, commented: “The North East’s export performance remains strong with the annual total for exports of goods and services at another high at £14.12 billion in the 12 months up to September 2012.

“And we’re pleased and excited that the North East is the only English region with a positive balance of payments, meaning that we export more than we import.

“However, we know we’re facing a tough time at the moment and there has been another dip in the region’s export figures during the last three months and we need to continue our efforts to boost exports.

“This will enable us to deliver an ambitious package of support designed to get more SMEs exporting, help UK companies access the highest value trade opportunities and reinforce the UK as the location of choice for Europe-bound investors.

“Our aim is to help create 500 new exporters over the next two years and we’re working hard to ensure companies have all the support they need to succeed overseas.”

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