Nearly half of non-exporters actively considering international trade see the cost of international connections from the UK as a barrier to export, a new report by the British Chambers of Commerce has revealed.
It surveyed more than 8,000 companies for its policy report, “Exporting is good for Britain”, and found that concern about transport barriers is highest among potential exporters.
It said this underscored “the urgency of improving the quality and lowering the cost of Britain’s transport system – through fiscal measures and incentives to encourage more efficient use of existing capacity; eliminating ‘double taxation’ of air transport; removing blockages to much-needed investment by introducing new mechanisms like a national infrastructure bank; and ensuring the UK’s much-publicised new National Infrastructure Plan is actually implemented.”
The current president of the British Chambers of Commerce is Martyn Pellew who has held senior positions with PD Ports, Unipart and Exel Logistics (now DHL).
Since the BCC last surveyed members in 2011, the share of responding businesses actively exporting goods and services from the UK rose from just over a fifth (22 per cent) to nearly a third (32 per cent). Yet it also shows that barriers, and obstacles remain.
The survey found that businesses believe the cost of international transport connections is more of an export barrier than their quality.
However, it is apparent that a greater proportion of those that might consider exporting in the future claim cost is a barrier (49 per cent) compared to those currently trading internationally (43 per cent).
Around one in five UK businesses believe that the quality of international transport connections, such as the availability or absence of direct flights, is a barrier to exporting. This share rises significantly for businesses based in Scotland (34 per cent) and Northern Ireland (32 per cent).
In the light of these findings, the BCC argues that the government must accelerate the implementation of road tolling to fund new capacity at pinch points such as the A14 between Felixstowe and the Midlands; as well as promoting greater use of rail and sea transport via UK regional ports.
In addition, it says, the government must produce a comprehensive aviation strategy for the UK, commit to the full implementation of the 2011 national infrastructure plan, and implement measures to leverage more private sector investment in infrastructure.