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Four in 10 exporters report international trading difficulties, study reveals

Almost four in 10 exporters say sales have dropped in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), suggests that the global market has yet to recover, despite economic improvements at home.

According to the paper, some 41 per cent of exporters reported “decreased export sales” in the first three months of 2021, while the number of businesses reporting “increased export sales” fell to just 20 per cent.

These figures suggest that the global environment is worsening for traders, with the proportion of firms reporting increased export sales at a “historically low level”.

The British tourism sector is also facing challenges, with 81 per cent of hotels and catering firms reporting decreased advance exports sales, alongside 59 per cent of retail and wholesale businesses.

The turbulent trading conditions were also felt by the production, manufacturing, and construction sector, of which over a third (36 per cent) reported decreased export sales.

Commenting on the figures, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, Hannah Essex, said Brexit and the impact of Covid-19 are the biggest causes of problems in trade.

“Given that export sales are at some of the lowest levels ever recorded in the history of our data, the fact this situation is continuing to deteriorate is concerning. These new figures show that UK exporters are currently facing a range of issues that go beyond just those that have been created by the pandemic.

“Whilst our Quarterly Economic Survey earlier this month demonstrated that domestic sales had continued to recover towards pre-pandemic levels, these findings show exports not only failing to recover but falling back.”

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