Politics

Brexit Britain to reach £1trillion annual export target 15 years late

Keir Starmer discusses Brexit and a second referendum

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The UK will reach its £1trillion annual export target 15 years after its initial date, new figures have shown. Ministers have been slammed for leaving a “record of failure and broken promises’ as a result of the projections from the Department for International Trade (DIT).

The data indicated UK exports will not reach £1trillion until 2035, with the total due to fall £707billion next year.

David Cameron, who campaigned in 2016 for the UK to stay in the European Union, set the £1trillion target for 2020.

However, Boris Johnson later gave an end date of 2030 in his campaign called “Made in the UK, sold to the world”.

The figures emerged after Exports Minister Andrew Bowie gave a parliamentary answer.

The estimates are based on forecasts from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The OBR showed exports falling from £739billion last year to £707billion next year.

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However, the figure looks set to rise again to £725billion by 2027.

The former Royal Navy officer also blamed external factors for the UK’s lagging performance.

Bowie said: “We recognise the speed by which the UK reaches this milestone will be impacted by macroeconomic factors such as global demand and exchange rates.”

He added: “This has proven to be the case over the past year where we have experienced external shocks and a spike in inflation.”

However, an official from the Federal of Small Businesses (FSB) claimed one-in-eight small exporters have temporarily or permanently halted sales to the content’s 27 member states.

FSB policy chair Tina McKenzie said: “Trade barriers, including red tape, sluggish economic performance domestically and globally and insufficient export support have led to the continued suppression of exports. 

“Our research shows one in eight small exporters have temporarily or permanently stopped sales to the EU, with a further one in 10 considering doing so.”

However, FSB suggested a new fund to support small exporters and changes to UK-EU trading terms could help ministers hit the 2030 target.

Labour’s Shadow International Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds slammed his Conservative counterparts following the release of the recent data.

He told the Guardian: “The Conservatives’ record on exports is one of failure and broken promises.

“In 2012, they pledged to reach £1trillion of exports by 2020. Six chancellors and four Prime Ministers later, the OBR predicts the target will be hit 15 years late.”

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Mr Thomas-Symonds added: “This failure will mean the UK missing out on growth and job opportunities, risking us falling further down the world economic rankings.”

However, the pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign claimed the UK’s departure from the Brussels bloc will create new opportunities for Britain.

The campaign said: “If we vote leave and take back control, we will gain the power to strike our own trade deals, creating new business opportunities and creating more jobs.”

A spokesperson for the Department for International Trade said: “We’re promoting the UK’s world-class exporters to help them take advantage of global opportunities and sell more of their goods and services across the globe.

“Our landmark 12-point export strategy will challenge government and the private sector to reach £1trillion worth of exports a year sooner than predicted.”

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