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North-East exports slip
A RALLYING call has been issued to the region’s firms as the latest figures showed that North-East exports dipped during the last quarter.
The region struggled to maintain the stellar performance seen at the start of 2012 when export records were smashed.
After hitting an annual peak of £14.1bn in the 12-months up to September 2012, the total value of exports from the region during the final three months of 2012 was £3.2bn, down from £3.6nb in 2011. This represented a fall of 5.72 per cent on the previous quarter and gave an annual total of £13.6bn.
Trade with the US suffered most although it remained the largest single market for the North-East with a 12-month export value of £1.8bn, compared to £2.5bn during the previous 12 months. Medical and pharmaceutical exports saw the biggest drop.
SSI UK was one of the region's success stories, with the Thai-owned steelmaker's weekly shipments from Teesport contributing to Thailand becoming the region’s fastest growing market with an increase of 2162 per cent. Exports of iron and steel were up on the previous year by 118 per cent thanks to production restarting last April at the former Corus works in Redcar ended a two year hiatus.
The importance of Sunderland-based Japanese car manufacturer Nissan to the region's exports was underlined as road vehicles exports were up by 4.49 per cent up to £5.3bn. Nissan is responsible for more than a quarter of the region's export revenue.
There was also an increase in organic chemicals and strong growth in exports to Spain, Russia and Turkey.
David Coppock, regional director for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) in the North-East said: “It is disappointing that we have seen a dip in exports during the final quarter of 2012, which can be attributed in part to the fall in exports from the region to the USA. However, we need to remember it follows several record-breaking performances and our annual total is still up on the 2011 figure.
“Having said that, we cannot afford to be complacent and I would urge companies to renew their efforts to grow their business overseas and UKTI will continue to work hard with its many partners to help ensure they have all the support they need to succeed."
He urged the region’s firms to renew their efforts and follow in the footsteps of successful exporters such as engineering firm Pinnacle Re-Tec Limited of Consett, County Durham to take up the export challenge.
The firm which specialises in manufacturing parts for pumps and compressors had set its sights on an overseas contract in Egypt worth more than £700,000, but raising an advance payment guarantee and performance bond was the stumbling block.
However, working closely with export finance adviser Jonathan Leonard, the company has been able to secure the bond from HSBC, to allow the contract to go ahead.
As part of efforts to support exporters UKTI is hosting a week of events from May 13 to 17 including the North East Exporters Awards Dinner on May 16 at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.