NORTH-EAST exports in the last year have risen by 2.32 per cent, the highest of all English regions.

The latest quarterly export figures released by HMRC for April to June 2014 show that £3.102bn worth of goods were exported from the region, an increase of £273m, or +9.66 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Although the quarterly figure was slightly less than for the first three months of the year, there was a 2.32 per cent increase in the 12-month rolling total, from £11.724bn up to end of March 2014 to £11.998bn in the 12-months up to the end of June 2014. This was the highest increase of all the English regions, while the UK average showed a fall of -2.04 per cent.

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David Coppock, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) regional director, said: “Despite a small dip in the quarterly figure, the North-East is demonstrating growth in many export markets. It was one of only three English regions to show growth over a rolling 12-month period, and saw the highest increase.

“This is an impressive achievement for the region’s exporters and I hope it will inspire others to take up the exporting for growth challenge.”

The HMRC statistics show that the Netherlands remains the largest single market for North-East goods with a 12-month export value of £1.608bn up to the end of June 2014.

Exports to nine of the region’s top 20 markets grew over the past 12 months, including: USA at £1.66bn up £251m or 28 per cent, Belgium at £715m up £526m or 278 per cent; Canada at £224m up £57m or 34 per cent; Finland at £201m up £100m or 100 per cent and Hungary at £121m up £98

Exports to the EU also grew slightly, by around 3 per cent, to bring the share of total North-East exports to the EU to 56 per cent of all exports compared to the previous year. Nationally around 51 per cent of all exports are to the EU.

The region’s top five industry sectors in the last 12 months were: Road vehicles (including air cushion vehicles) £4.76bn (-£25m or -0.5 per cent) although there was a £75m increase compared to previous rolling 12-month period; Organic Chemicals £837m (+£256m or +9.4 per cent), Specialised Machinery £700m (+£256m or +57.7%), Medicinal & Pharmaceutical Products £1.51bn (-£196m or -11.5 per cent) and Iron & Steel £1.2bn (-£84m or -6.5 per cent).

Among the many North East businesses that are already exporting for growth is Cravens Ltd, an independent creative advertising agency which opened an office in Dubai three years ago to develop its global client base. This led to the development of significant new revenue streams helping drive recruitment and an office move earlier this year.

Established in 1948, the company took its first steps into international markets in 2009, leading the global rebrand of the sport of rowing for FISA, the Olympic Governing body based in Switzerland.

It signed up to UKTI’s Passport to Export programme in 2010 and commissioned Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) reports to research opportunities in the United Arab Emirates as well as Qatar in a bid to develop a local presence in the Middle East.

UKTI’s Gateway to Global Growth (G3) programme then provided further support as the company set up a local office in Dubai Media City and has since won several major projects across the region for the likes of Jumeriah Hotels, Qatars Masters Golf and Nikon.

Phil Coverdale, managing director at Cravens Ltd, said: “Our work in the Middle East has enabled Cravens to access significant new client business. Not only have we delivered work ‘on the ground’ in the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman but we are also building contacts and opportunities that generate work back in the UK.

“Getting established in a new market required significant investment or time and, of course, money. The support we’ve received from UKTI has been significant. For any business considering expansion overseas, accessing the expertise, advice and practical help available from programmes such as Passport and OMIS is invaluable.”

Mr Coppock continued: “Our role at UKTI is to make sure companies continue to export and make the most of any opportunities available.

“We have a wide range of support services available to companies, whatever their size and whatever their business, to help them win new business overseas and in November we will once again be hosting Export Week bringing together experts from around the globe to help inspire and advise companies fulfil their exporting ambitions.”