Sterling Volatility Major Ongoing Concern for Exporters

The British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with DHL, has published its latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook, based on survey and documentation data from UK exporters. The Outlook indicates that many exporters are performing well but economic and political factors are weighing on them.

The survey, of over 2,600 exporters, found that confidence in future operations remains strong, but external economic and political factors are having an impact. The results show 60% of exporting manufacturers were more concerned about exchange rates in the second quarter of the year than in the previous three months. There was also increased concern among 43% of service exporters, highlighting the broad impact of the weakness of the pound.

The findings indicate that price pressures eased slightly on exporters during the second quarter of the year. However, those manufacturers under pressure to raise prices report the cost of raw materials as the leading factor (81%). Service firms believe the cost of raw materials (39%) and other overheads (51%) are the leading sources of cost pressure.

The escalating labour shortage in the UK is also having a serious impact on exporters, with a staggering 69% of recruiting manufacturers struggling to find staff.

Elsewhere, the BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index, which measures the volume of trade documents issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce for goods shipments, decreased slightly on the quarter (-1.34%), but still stands higher than at the same quarter in the previous year.

The Outlook indicates that many UK exporters are maintaining their competitiveness in foreign markets with healthy sales and order books, but the weakness of the pound is increasing the cost of raw materials imported from abroad. With growing tension around the nature of the future UK-EU trading relationship and escalating trade disputes with key partners such as the US, the government must do all it can to maintain confidence and take unilateral action to improve the domestic business environment wherever possible.



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