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Cars and steel head region’s export charge
THE region’s resurgent iron and steel industry and record-breaking car factory are helping to lead the export drive, a report has shown.
The North-East is on target to achieve £14.4bn of goods exports by 2017, bolstered by rapid rises in sales of cars and iron and steel, according to the EY UK Goods Exports Monitor.
The study, which tracks international goods exports by region, sector and trade routes over the next five years, shows the North- East is set for 0.8 per cent annualised growth by 2017 – ahead of the UK average of 0.3 per cent.
It shows road vehicles will make up £6bn worth of all North-East goods exports by 2017, led by Nissan Sunderland, underlining the plant’s importance to the regional economy.
Iron and steel is forecast to soar from £0.9bn to £3.9bn thanks to SSI UK, which last month sent its largest ever shipment of steel slabs, when 87,869 tonnes were delivered to Thailand from Teesport.
It comes as the Redcarbased producer revealed a string of record-breaking production results.
SSI’s blast furnace, basic oxygen plant and casting plant last week achieved their highest weekly outputs since work restarted in April last year.
Bosses say its blast furnace produced 61,210 tonnes of iron, compared to its previous highest of 57,676 tonnes in June, with its oxygen plant making 64,152 tonnes of steel.
Its previous best was 61,963 tonnes in June.
SSI UK’s casting plant made 63,224 tonnes of steel slab, compared to 61,455 tonnes in May.
In contrast to the rapid rise of steel, agricultural and overall oil and gas industry exports from the region are forecast to decline.
Simon Whiteside, a director at EY in Newcastle, said: “While the UK services sector remains the principal engine of recovery, UK goods exports – which account for nearly half of all UK exports – still make a vital contribution to the economy.
“In the North-East, as a manufacturing hotspot, engineering is set to grow over the period, counterbalancing the falls in the oil and gas sector.
“Growth in engineering is so significant it outweighs the fall in other sectors and is an area in which we are seeing clear investment.
“The best results have been where industries have clustered geographically concentrated industrial sectors to promote export strength.”
The analysis suggests UK goods exporters are lagging behind the wider UK recovery, with a decline in demand from our traditional large trading partners for UK goods to 2017.
However, exports are increasing, particularly into fast growth markets such as Brazil and China.
Mr Whiteside added: “Now that confidence in the UK appears to be turning a corner, goods exporters must stop treading water and manoeuvre into the fast lanes to growth, mirroring the success of our most buoyant sectors, which have benefited from having very targeted export strategies.”
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