Global sales of British manufactured goods to add £176bn to the UK economy this year

09 December 2021
  • International sales of British-made goods will bring in £176bn to the economy this year and currently support 858,000 British manufacturing jobs
  • Food and drink products (£34.3bn in sales per year) are the country’s biggest selling manufactured product on the global stage, followed by automotive products (£20.9bn)
  • Manufacturers who export are more likely to have achieved ‘significant growth’ this year than those who don’t: 26% vs 18%
  • 63% of non-exporting manufacturers plan to start in 2022: their sales could see these exports worth £190bn per year by 2030, an annual increase of £14bn over current levels

UK manufacturing exports will bring in around £176bn* to the economy this year, according to a new study** from Barclays Corporate Banking. What’s more, the plans of manufacturers who don’t currently export to start selling their products overseas could see that total soar to £190bn a year by 2030.

Barclays’ new report – The Export Dividend – shows that, despite widespread supply chain disruption and challenges brought on by the global pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU, 69% of manufacturing firms with 10 or more employees are currently exporting. Of these, British food and drink producers are reaping the highest financial rewards, with £34.3bn in sales on a global scale. They are followed by automotive manufacturers, with £20.9bn.

Exporters are also shown to have fared better this year than non-exporters. Over a quarter (26%) of the research respondents who sell overseas said they had seen ‘significant growth’ in 2021, only 18% of non-exporters said the same. Meanwhile, manufacturers who export are also more confident about their prospects in 2022 with 88% of exporting businesses upbeat about their growth prospects, compared to 71% of those who don’t currently export.

Among those who don’t yet export, there is significant demand to start doing so with almost two thirds (63%) aiming to start selling overseas in 2022. If they do, Barclays’ economic modelling predicts it could be worth an additional £1.8bn to the economy next year, and an additional £14bn per year by 2030.

Non-exporters are more likely to favour European markets, with three in ten (30%) saying they would target Germany initially, followed by The Netherlands (24%) and the US (24%). In contrast, the US is the market that most current exporters (30%) sell to, followed by Germany (26%) and France (26%).

The new findings coincide with the Government’s refreshed export strategy, ‘Made in the UK, Sold to the World’, which was published in November. Barclays’ research shows that knowledge gaps will need to be narrowed to fulfil its ambitions. As it stands, only around four in 10 respondents are aware of current or emerging initiatives to encourage international trade, such as the UK’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (42%) and the recently signed free trade agreements with Japan (41%) and Australia (39%).

Fewer (35%) were aware of the plans to create eight new freeports in England, which offer tax breaks for manufacturers on the import of materials. However, those familiar with freeports were very positive about the scheme with 78% saying they plan to make use of them once they come online.

Richard Craven, Manufacturing Industry Director, Barclays Corporate Banking said: “The British manufacturing sector, like many others, has endured a tough year and around a third of our research respondents have been impacted by higher labour costs, higher material costs and other supply chain issues.

“However, exporters, more than most, have weathered the storms and are enjoying strong demand for their products in markets all around the world. Confidence is high and many firms are looking to exports to fulfil their growth ambitions next year and beyond.”

Mike Freer MP, Minister for Exports, added: “Barclays’ new report highlights the demand for UK goods and services overseas, from our leading food and drink sector to our classic, British cars.

“For our world-renowned food and drink sector, which totalled £21.7 billion in exports last year, we have specialist food and drink attaches in key global markets, ready to facilitate trading relationships between UK businesses and new markets, showcasing the best of Britain on a truly international stage.”

“My department offers a range of support for businesses who want to take advantage of what exporting has to offer, namely our recently-published Export Strategy and new Export Academy which will provide guidance to businesses exporting for the first time.”

Other findings from The Export Dividend report include:

·         71% of manufacturers agree that the pandemic continues to have an adverse impact on their business operations

·         To mitigate disruption, over two fifths (43%) are diversifying their global supply base, while 40% are setting up overseas warehousing space

·         Beyond the EU and the US, current exporters are most likely to be trading in Canada (23%), India (19%), or Latin America (17%)

To read the full report, visit: https://www.barclayscorporate.com/insights/industry-expertise/global-reach-of-UK-manufacturing/


* Economic modelling was conducted by Development Economics Ltd, combining attitudinal survey responses with ONS data sources. The modelling uncovered statistically representative results for each UK manufacturing sub-sector and each UK region.

** Barclays Corporate Banking commissioned Censuswide to run a survey of 604 18+ senior managers or above in manufacturing businesses with 10 or more employees, conducted between 11th October and 20th October 2021.