Regional exports on track to Commonwealth markets


LEP Board Member, Eric Hawthorn, and UKTI’s Regional Trade Director, Mark Robson, comment on the region’s latest export results:

As the UK prepares to welcome the return of the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow 2014, new figures show that many local businesses are already heading for the Commonwealth.

The latest trade in goods statistics (released yesterday, 5 June) from HM Revenue & Customs reveal that total exports for Yorkshire and the Humber were worth more than £4.07 billion for the first quarter of 2014 (January to March) - keeping the region on track for another healthy year.

Despite a slight decline on the same period of 2013, the in-year figure, from April 2013 to March 2014, shows sustained growth. Analysis also reveals gains in exports to commonwealth regions like Asia & Oceania, the Caribbean and North America, including Canada.

There was uplift in all three regions for Q1 2014 versus Q1 2013, with North America particularly impressive, growing from £682m to £883m.

Export chief for Yorkshire and the Humber, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Regional Director Mark Robson, said:

“Trade within the Commonwealth is estimated at £300bn a year and the Games will provide further opportunities to boost this trade. The latest statistics show that local businesses are continuing to overcome economic hurdles and rise to the challenge to grow.”

The Commonwealth baton will pass through the region next week, visiting Hull on 11 June and Leeds a day later.

Mark continued: “Our role at UKTI is to make sure companies continue to export and make the most of any opportunities available.

“This is why we need to maximise the opportunities that the Commonwealth Games will bring, and is why UKTI is working closely with Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government and the Commonwealth Business Council to deliver a business conference in Glasgow.

“It aims to attract more than 200 business CEOs and political leaders from across the commonwealth, ahead of the opening of the Games, and will provide a platform to look at the issues and opportunities that businesses from across the Commonwealth face in moving forward.”

Today’s HMRC statistics show that chemicals; machinery and transport equipment; and fuels are the key export commodities for Yorkshire and the Humber, with America, France and Germany remaining our top three export partners.

Eric Hawthorn, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board member and MD of Shipley-based Radio Design, commented: “Although the first quarter figures reveal a moderate dip on the same period last year, our We are International campaign is still seeing strong demand from firms looking to take the first steps towards trading overseas. I’m particularly pleased that more companies are looking to markets outside of the EU, where opportunities are particularly lucrative.

“With confidence among Leeds City Region businesses now at a record high, there’s never been a better time for firms to start exploring the enormous opportunities in international markets. Take advantage of the support available from UKTI, the chambers and other organisations, which can make exporting so much easier. My own company has benefitted from this support, and 70% of our business is now international.”

Mark Robson is looking forward to a busy period ahead as Yorkshire prepares to embrace its own sporting spectacle in the form of the Grand Depart.

UKTI, Welcome to Yorkshire and partners are running an International Business Festival ahead of the race, from 2-4 July, offering three packed days of business activity.

“The Tour de France will bring unprecedented interest in Yorkshire, and it’s a chance for companies to shine like never before and showcase what they have to offer,” added Mark.

“There is a growing feel-good vibe amongst the regional business community as we build up to the event, and it provides renewed confidence to get out there and compete on the global stage.”

UKTI is also hosting a major Export Fair at Ripon Racecourse on 27 June that provides an opportunity for companies to find out more about the wealth of support available to help them succeed in international markets.

Delegates can hear from like-minded companies about their experiences, speak with UKTI staff from various overseas offices and attend a series of short master classes.

Bookings are now open for the Grand Depart International Business Festival events. Visit for details.

For further information on the Export Fair and general support available from UKTI Y&H call 0300 365 1000 or email