Make the UK an exporting superpower

Make the UK an exporting superpower

Raise exports to 35% of GDP

For the last 20 years, we’ve been importing more than we export. But selling goods and services overseas is good for business productivity and growth, as well as regional and national economies. With international relationships under the spotlight, now is the time for the UK to grasp opportunities worldwide.

The change we're calling for

We’re calling on the government to deliver on its ambition to increase exports to 35% of GDP. Implementing the policies that enable UK firms to reach global markets will boost regional growth and productivity and ensure the UK economy is more sustainable.

  • Icon 1

    Align the Export Strategy with the Industrial Strategy to coherently link UK government assistance both domestically and internationally and ensure businesses have the best possible access to support

  • Icon 2

    Maximise the UK’s diplomatic network around the world to create a more consistent approach to economic diplomacy, so that UK firms can realise their potential

  • Icon 3

    Establish strong business-government partnerships so that the Export Strategy is geared towards business needs

Why it's needed

Less than 10% of UK businesses currently export, and yet exporting offers many opportunities for businesses to compete, grow and innovate. Both the UK economy and many firms would feel real benefits if the UK set an ambitious, long-term and cross-government exports agenda. Companies that trade internationally become more productive, more innovative and diversify their risk profile – and exporting can be a significant driver of growth.

The UK is at a pivotal moment, redefining its place in the world after Brexit. Now more than ever, we must put in place a framework that provides the right environment for business to grasp opportunities worldwide. Irrespective of the nature of the agreement with the EU, or future free trade agreements with other countries, government and business must act now to improve the UK’s exports.

Quote —

"The UK’s innovation, creativity and outstanding services have never been more relevant to a changing world. And as politicians look afresh at our international relationships, this is the moment for government and business to set a world-leading level of ambition, backed by action, that will position the UK as a thriving, open and global economy for generations to come."

Ben Digby, Director of International Trade & Investment, CBI

The impact of exports

Trade as a driver of growth, productivity and innovation

The evidence shows that exporting businesses experience higher growth, productivity, and are more likely to innovate.

  • In the year to November 2018, £630 billion of goods and services were exported by UK businesses.

  • Up to 15% of firms in every region could be exporting but are yet to do so.

  • Less than 10% of UK businesses export, but that makes up 30% of UK GDP.

Our progress and impact

The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business creates prosperity for all. Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on this issue.

  • access_time Jump to
  • sort Filter

Support the change

  1. Are you a business leader?

    Join the CBI

    Our members are our mandate, and the reason we’re the most influential business organisation in the UK. Join the voice of business and help us campaign to create the right environment for the UK to be an exporting superpower.

    Find out more
  2. Are you a CBI member?

    Have your say

    Shape the CBI policy position to create a prosperous exporting environment. Share your story and make a difference.

    Get involved
  3. Are you a policymaker?

    Make a difference

    This campaign is led by the CBI's International Trade team.

    Contact Ben Digby, Director of International Trade and Investment, to find out what UK business urgently needs to improve exports and how you can support it.

    Contact us