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, was one of the region’s success stories, with the Thai-owned steelmaker’s introduction of weekly shipments to the Far East country from Teesport significantly contributing to the 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 relaunching 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 was Billingham software specialists AES Digital Solutions, which has been helped by UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) to secure contracts in the US.

The firm made use of the UKTI’s Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth programmes and commissioned an Overseas Market Introduction Service 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 breakthrough for the company, who have recently secured a contract with a US firm.

The US 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 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 vehicle exports were up by 17 per cent, to a 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, by 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 Wednesday’s Autumn Statement to deliver a package of support to get more companies exporting.

The 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 £14.12bn in the 12 months up to September.

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 past three months and we need to continue our efforts to boost exports.

“That is why UKTI’s annual budget has been increased by £70m a year for 2012-13 and 2013-14. This will enable us to deliver an ambitious package of support designed to get more mall and medium-sized enterprises exporting, help UK companies access the highest value trade opportunities and reinforce the UK as the location of choice for Europebound investors.

To find out more about the support available from UKTI, call the North-East International Trade hotline on 0845- 0505-054 or email enquiries @uktinortheast.org.uk.