Export Target

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 21st July 2015.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Substitute Member) 11:30 am, 21st July 2015

What assessment he has made of the likelihood of the Government meeting its 2020 export target.

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The 2020 export target of £1 trillion is ambitious. UK Trade & Investment has doubled the number of businesses it helps since 2010. The productivity plan sets out steps to take this further by mobilising the whole of Government behind helping our great British businesses to export much more.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Substitute Member)

Britain needs export growth, not just cuts, to clear the deficit, but the Chancellor is set to miss his export target by a massive £350 billion and to deliver the worst peacetime trade deficit since 1830. What action are the Government taking to combine the creative industries with our manufacturing base to target emerging middle classes in BRIC countries—in particular, China and India—to fire up growth and not rely solely on hitting the poor with cuts?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

We can see the disarray in the hon. Gentleman’s personal life, given that he walked through the Lobby to support one leadership candidate last night, while publicly backing another who abstained. He mentions the importance of exporting to emerging markets. I can confirm that UK exports to China have increased by 72% since 2010, while exports to South Korea—many of them in the creative industries—are up by 148% and to Hong Kong by 63%.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Does my hon. Friend agree that British business would find it easier to export to the rest of the world if it did not have to comply with the red tape imposed on it by Brussels bureaucrats?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

My hon. Friend is an example to Opposition Members in the consistency of his political viewpoint. He is right to point out that the euro area has indeed been sluggish. One of the reasons we are experiencing slow growth in the euro area is that our goods exports have been falling to that part of the world. That is why it is so important that we refocus British businesses on exporting to some of the faster growing parts of the world.

Photo of Jonathan Reynolds Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change)

That was an extraordinarily complacent answer from the Minister. On this Chancellor’s watch, the UK’s current account deficit has become the largest of any advanced economy, and the value of UK exports is largely what it was in 2010, when the Government came to power. Crucially, that cannot be put down to the sluggishness of the eurozone, because exports to non-eurozone countries have been equally static, and the figure the Minister gave for China reflects demand in the Chinese economy. Does she accept that whatever the strategies the Government have deployed so far, they simply have not worked?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman shares my view that it is very important for us to help British businesses to export more. We have some fantastic British businesses, and many of them have started to export. UKTI has doubled the number of companies that it has helped in the past five years. He is absolutely right that we should aim to be very ambitious in this area. I would like to point out that export volumes outside the EU have actually grown by 24% since the first quarter of 2008.