EXPORTS from the region have reached another record high, bucking the national downward trend, with the North-East’s annual total coming in at £14.125bn.

The region is once again leading the way when it comes to exports, with HM Revenue and Customs figures showing North-East companies managed to increase the value of goods shipped abroad by 6.7 per cent in the 12 months to September 30, while nationally this figure fell by 0.4 per cent.

SSI UK, in Teesside, were one of the region’s success stories, with the Thai-owned steel-maker’s introduction of weekly shipments to the Far East country from Teesport significantly contributing to the whopping 1,147 per cent, or £292.956m, increase in exports to Thailand, making the Far East country one of the region’s fastest growing markets.

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The boost from SSI UK re-launching steel-making on Teesside after a year-long hiatus also saw exports of iron and steel jump by 78 per cent on the previous year to £683m.

Also blazing a trail for exports is Billingham software specialists AES Digital Solutions, who have been helped by UK Trade and Industry to secure contracts in the United States.

The firm made use of the UKTI’s Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth (G3) programmes and commissioned an Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) report to help gain an insight into the market.

In September, managing director Joe Telford was awarded a scholarship to the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University, Chicago, which has proved a real breakthrough for the company, who have recently secured a new contract with a US firm.

The USA remains the largest single market for North-East goods with a 12-month export value of £2.58bn, an increase of 2.07 per cent on the previous 12-month figure. There was also strong growth in exports to Russia, with an increase of £427.666m or 47.6 per cent, giving a total in the past 12 months of £1.336bn; Canada 26.3 per cent to £237.648m; and Australia 24.76 per cent, bringing the total to £323.951m.

Road vehicles exports were up by 17 per cent up, total of £5.6bn, largely down to Sunderland-based Japanese car manufacturer Nissan, which exports more than £5bn annually.

There were also increases in specialised machinery 5.4 per cent to £801m; organic chemicals, 3.3 per cent to £806m; medical and pharmaceutical products 4.6 per cent to £2.39bn.

Now the region is set to share in the benefits of an extra £70m funding for UKTI announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement in a bid to deliver a package of support to get more companies exporting.

The aim of the Government department aim is to help create 500 new exporters over the next two years.

David Coppock, UKTI regional director said: “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.

“That is why UKTI’s annual budget has been increased by £70 million a year for 2012/13 and 2013/14 while £30 million has also been allocated to continue the GREAT campaign. 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.

To find out more about the wide range of support services available through UK Trade & Investment to help your company succeed overseas call the North East International Trade Hotline on 0845-0505-054 or email enquiries@uktinortheast.org.uk.