IoD calls for more ambitious exports target

The Institute of Directors urges the government to aim higher on its strategy for export growth – the current target of £1 trillion exports in current prices by 2030 is not sufficiently stretching.

Instead, the IoD is calling for:

  • A chained-volume target of £900bn of exports in 2019 prices by 2030
  • A second target of 15% of all businesses exporting either goods or services by 2030

To help achieve the latter, there should be a focus on the appropriate contributions that can be made by individual regions and nations of the UK.

Taken together these two targets would be sufficient to form a judgement of the success of government policies in a way that feels meaningful to the real-life experience of business today. Further detail is laid out in a new IoD policy paper, Setting a Meaningful Export Target for Britain, launched today.

Emma Rowland, Policy Advisor at the IoD, said:

“It is important the government holds itself to account with a meaningful export target, since exports drive growth. It is especially important at the moment since many firms are feeling constrained by the current export environment. For example, IoD research shows roughly one in ten businesses have stopped exporting, primarily due to a combination of Brexit and pandemic related pressures.

“The government’s £1 trillion target sounds like a significant number. However, our analysis shows it can be met as prices alter due to inflation even if the number of actual items being exported stays the same. That’s why we want to see a volume-based target and also a second target to increase the proportion of companies that export.

“If adopted, our approach would focus government attention firstly on helping firms which already export to do so more, and secondly encouraging those which have exportable goods or services to start exporting.

“UK trade data masks considerable discrepancies in exporting output across the country, particularly when comparing London and the South East to the rest of the UK. A focus on increasing the number of exporters in all areas of the country would additionally spur regional development as well as providing new market opportunities for the businesses concerned.

“The Institute of Directors will continue to track the implementation of policy designed to spur exports and hold the government to account in evaluating the impact of their measures.”

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