Supply chain · 16 March 2018

Global Britain stirs as businesses ramp up spending on non-EU imports

Global Britain
Imports from India saw the biggest increase last year

Global Britain is “stirring” a year before Brexit, as research shows business owners ramping up spending on imports from outside the EU.

New figures, from international payment specialist FEXCO Corporate Payments, revealed that British firms are increasingly looking to new markets, spending 33 per cent more on imports, in sterling terms, from non-Eurozone and developing countries in 2017 compared with 2016.

It is double the 14 per cent increase in spending on imports from the UK’s more established trading partners such as North America, the Eurozone, Australia and New Zealand.

The analysis, of more than 28,500 transactions made through FEXCO Corporate Payments, showed that demand for so-called ‘exotic’ currencies – excluding the Euro and the US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Dollar – picked up dramatically throughout last year.

While the number of transactions remained broadly the same, up just six per cent on 2016, the average transaction size rose by 28 per cent to £5,057.

The biggest jump in trade was with India, with British businesses spending 365 per cent more on Indian Rupees.

The second biggest leap was with the Czech Republic, with UK firms making 39 per cent more transactions and spending 65 per cent more on Czech Koruna than in the previous year.

Purchases from South Africa rose sharply too, with the total value of imports rising by 42 per cent, while imports from Poland picked up by a quarter.

Indeed, FEXCO recorded a 24 per cent increase in the number of transactions and a 27 per cent jump in the amount spent on Polish Zloty.

“With Brexit barely a year away, Britain’s trade negotiations with the EU still have a long way to go. But while politicians agonise over the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe, many businesses are one step ahead, and already forming partnerships with new markets,” said David Lamb, head of dealing at FEXCO Corporate Payments.

“While the weak pound has forced businesses which import regularly to look for alternative suppliers in countries with a more favourable exchange rate, the steady rise in imports from developing economies and other non-Eurozone countries cannot be dismissed as a mere cost-saving exercise.”

Lamb said the increased willingness of British businesses to look beyond the usual suspects in the Eurozone and North America could be seen as “the first stirrings of the ‘Global Britain’ that Brexiteers hope a non-EU UK will become”.

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