Political leadership is needed at cabinet level to help improve British exports, according to a report published today.
The study, commissioned by the previous Labour government, said that turning around exports was a “huge task” that should not be underestimated.
Graham Cole, the chairman of helicopter maker AgustaWestland who chaired the commission, said: “There must be a role reversal where government sees business as the customer. Leadership has to come from the top and whilst we are pleased to see steps have already been taken to deliver cabinet-level political accountability, we are also clear that business must also have a seat at the top table to drive through these changes.”
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “Britain has five million small businesses, but only one in five currently exports overseas. We must look beyond our traditional export partners, as well as better harnessing our strong diaspora links abroad and prioritising digital skills so that we can benefit from new opportunities.”
Today’s study came after a survey from the CBI showed British factory orders fell to their weakest level for almost two years this month after being hit by a slowdown in exports.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said that export orders “are being pressurised by sterling’s strength against the euro while the Greek crisis could well be leading to a wariness of some eurozone clients to place major orders”.