6 export markets you should be thinking about

From Central Africa to Chile there are many destinations that have demonstrated considerable growth and potential but remain outside of the most commonly cited target markets.

Central Africa

Several countries in central Africa have demonstrated strong and consistent growth in UK exports over the last few years, including Angola, Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. And, although Africa’s been making headlines because of the devastating Ebola outbreak, the affected areas are limited to a small number of countries in the north-west of the continent.

The potential for the region was noted in the latest phase of the government’s Britain Open for Business campaign, published earlier this year, alongside the much-talked about BRIC nations. The UK Trade & Investment document notes seven out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa and the continent already accounts for £20bn of UK exports, providing a “huge potential for a range of UK businesses”.

In addition, the EU is currently in the process of negotiating a series of development-focused trade agreements with African countries, potentially opening up new markets.

The United Arab Emirates

UK exports to the UAE nearly doubled to £10bn between 2012 and 2013. UKTI experts based in the region told Real Business that SMEs play a crucial role in the process: “We estimate that 50 per cent of the UAE economy is made up of SMEs. There are around 120,000 British Nationals in the UAE and over 5,000 British businesses trading in the Emirates.” You can read our full advice article on trading with the region here.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong was not only the UK’s second biggest export market in the Asia and Oceania region last year, but exports reached £9bn in 2013 – a 57 per cent increase on the previous year. Figures from HMRC show the phenomenal rate of growth slowed at the start of 2014, but there’s still huge potential and for many companies the market can provide a gateway to China.

Chancellor George Osborne visited the Special Administrative Region in February. Talking at the British Chambers of Commerce he highlighted our special bilateral relationship with the country: “300 British firms base their regional headquarters here, not just because of Hong Kong’s prosperity, but also because of Hong Kong’s stable government and strong legal system.”

Osborne added that more investment comes to the UK from Hong Kong than from the US, Canada and Singapore combined, and that almost a tenth of all our exports into China flow via Hong Kong.

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China

China’s already widely talked about, but the growth in UK exports to the seemingly unstoppable economic powerhouse has been so consistent it’s worth mentioning. UK exports to the country have increased every year since 2003 and in the last four years growth has been in the double-digits, including 17 per cent last year. The country is also just years away from pushing the US off the top spot in terms of the world’s largest economies.

Burma’s worth mentioning as an aside when it comes to target markets in the Asia and Oceania region. It’s middle of the 55-country-strong group in terms of the level of trade, but UK exports to the 21st largest market in the region doubled between 2011 and 2012, and increased by 244 per cent in 2013, reaching £44m.

Chile

UK exports to South America and Caribbean have been increasing steadily for several years. While the discussion has focused on the “B” in BRIC and Brazil remains the UK’s biggest export destination, several other countries in the region are providing promising opportunities, including Chile.

Although exports to the south-western state slowed between 2011 and 2012 they’ve been growing considerably over the last few years and topped a billion pounds in 2013, double what they were three years previous.

UKTI is active in promoting UK businesses’ opportunities to target the renewable energy sector, particularly marine-based, and hospital, ports, retail, education and mining.

Colombia

Colombia is one of the few large UK export destinations in South American that’s seen consistent growth over the last three years, with sales increasing 12.3 and 35 per cent year on year, making it the eighth biggest market in the region.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg went on a trade mission to promote Colombia and Mexico earlier in the year in what he called a “catch-up mission”: “The UK took its eye off the Latin American ball and as a result we’ve fallen behind many of our European competitors.”

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