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France moves ahead of US in snapping up North-East goods
THE country that once banned British beef is now the world's second largest importer of North-East goods, helped by its penchant for the region's meat products.
France, who outlawed UK beef for six years, buys about £1bn of North-East exports every year, including nearly £12m worth of livestock and food.
The figures, revealed by HM Revenues and Customs, are part of £272m North-East exports sent to France between April and June, which included £156m in new vehicles and £32m in medicine and pharmaceutical products.
However, despite the rise, the total value of all North-East exports fell slightly to £3.031bn, from £3.141bn between January to March, even though the region has seen an increase in the number of companies exporting goods.
The results mean France is the second biggest buyer of regional products behind the Netherlands, with the country moving ahead of the US, where North-East exports fell by 54.9 per cent.
According to the quarterly figures, our region shipped goods worth £1.53bn to the Netherlands in the 12 months to June, with France at £1.13bn and the US down to £1.10bn from £1.45bn in March.
Nationally, total annual UK exports fell by 0.1 per cent to £297.8bn up to the year ending June.
David Coppock, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) regional director, said although it was disappointing to see a drop in export values, there were still signs of growth.
He said: “The region still has a positive balance of trade meaning we are exporting more than we’re importing and the number of companies exporting has increased, with our aim of creating 500 new small and medium-sized exporters by 2015.
“The figures also show signs of growth, and though we’ve seen a big decline in regional exports to the US, we’ve had increases in the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy and seen strong growth in manufacturing exports.”
Exports to 11 of the region’s top 20 markets grew during the past 12 months, with Thailand again the region’s fastest growing market, with an increase from £635m to £754m, thanks to SSI UK's shipments of steel slab from Teesside.
Turkey saw an increase of £150m to £582m, Norway was up £23m to £214m and Sweden up £30m to £292m.
Mr Coppock said: “We will continue to work closely with partners across the region and encourage more North-East companies to take up the export for growth challenge and support them every step of the way.”
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