UK ministers are expected to announce a new £1 trillion annual export target this week in a bid to extoll the benefits of leaving the European Union.
A trade event hosted in London this week will offer the chance for politicians to flex Britain’s muscles outside of the single market, with a new “made in UK, sold to the world” campaign to be launched alongside various initiatives to boost overseas trade.
Financial support in the shape of export-linked loans and access to expertise and advice will be rolled out, while small businesses are expected to get financial support to attend trade shows, conferences and exhibitions.
The restated overseas sales target – expected to be hit by 2030 – is part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to overhaul Britain’s post-Brexit export strategy, helping the UK to “level up” by boosting cross-border trade.
But there’s one small issue.
As Jim Pickard and Daniel Thomas pointed out in the FT, the same export target was promised by David Cameron in 2012 with an objective of hitting it by 2020!
The promise also appeared in the 2015 Conservative party manifesto.
But the UK only managed to increase overseas sales to £689 billion by 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Emily Thornberry, shadow trade secretary, said the only way the government will acheive that target is by “mending our trade with Europe.”
“Mending our trade with Europe must be the priority,” she said. “That target cannot be achieved unless the government gets its head out of the sand, fixes the holes in their botched Brexit deal, and helps our exporters recover their trade with the UK’s biggest market.”