Export volumes dropped in September

UK export volumes decreased in September. Goods exports fell by 2.1% and services exports dropped by 0.4%.

The decline in goods exports was driven by a 3.4% decline to the EU and 0.9% drop to non-EU markets. This can be accounted for by a decrease in exports of fuel to the EU and medicinal and pharmaceutical products to the USA.

The picture for services was less negative, but still saw a decrease in exports by £0.1 billion. Financial Services, Consumer Facing Services and Other Business Services all fell somewhat flat, while only tech and IT sectors saw any increase. That being said, exports of services are on a definite upward climb from pre-pandemic levels, with an 11.1% increase in September 2023 from levels in February 2020.

Anecdotally, the trading environment for members continues to be somewhat constraining in light of geopolitical pressures, difficulties exporting to the EU and an uncertain economy at home.

However, our own data from September 2023 shows businesses are still striving for growth. When asked what their outlook for the following 12 months is in terms of exports, more businesses told us they are looking towards an increase than a decrease in exports.

We are also pleased the government has recognised their export target of £1 trillion by 2030 is not sufficiently stretching and, following our paper, Setting a Meaningful Export Target, is striving to increase the number of businesses in the UK exporting. Currently, there are 11% of businesses which export, but the Exports Minister claimed they ‘should be doubling that to 20%’.

About the author

image of Emma Rowland

Emma Rowland,

Policy Advisor at the Institute of Directors

Emma leads on the IoD’s policy work on international trade and EU affairs. She works with UK businesses, trade bodies and the government to advocate on behalf of IoD members on issues relating to the UK’s trading relationship with the EU, Free Trade Agreements, supply chain disruption and geopolitics.

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