THE East of England is leading the UK’s drive to build exports to countries beyond the European Union, new figures from HM Revenue & Customs have revealed.

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Exports from the region to non-EU countries grew by 19.4% in the year to September 2012 to £11.5billion, representing 42% of the East’s total exports.

Growth in the overall total was just 3%, however, due to a 6.3% fall in exports from the East of England to Europe.

Germany remained the region’s top export partner in the year to September, despite a slight dip in the value of sales to £3.5bn, followed by the United States in second place and France in third.

However, on current trends, the United States is on course to overtake Germany in the near future, with exports from the East to the US having increased by 18.1% in the past year.

Elsewhere, the region’s exports to Asia and Oceania grew by 16.6% (including an increase of 38% in sales to Hong Kong), those to the Middle East by 21% and those to Southern Africa by 92%.

Liz Basing, regional director of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Government body responsible for promoting exports and inward investment, said: “The East of England’s export performance remains strong with the annual total for exports of goods at £27.4bn in the 12 months up to September 2012.

“We know we’re facing a tough time at the moment, especially when it comes to exports to eurozone countries, so we need to continue our efforts to boost overseas business.”

“That is why UKTI’s annual budget has been increased by £70 million a year for the next two years while £30 million has also been allocated to continue the GREAT campaign.

“This will enable us to deliver an ambitious package of support designed to get more SMEs exporting, help UK companies access the highest value trade opportunities and reinforce the UK as the location of choice for Europe-bound investors.”

She added: “Our aim is to help meet the challenge set by Government who are looking to us to find 100,000 more exporters nationally by 2020 because by helping more companies export we help to create essential economic growth.

“Our Export Insight visits to European markets in the first part of 2013 will allow more companies considering exporting to learn about the support available from British Embassies in different markets to help them begin doing business overseas.”

For eligible companies, a nominal fee of £99 plus VAT covers group travel and accommodation for Export Insight visits. See www.embltd.org.uk/ukti for more information.

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