Britain is exporting more goods to countries outside the Europe Union (EU) than it is to the common market for the first time since the 1970s.
The Centre for Economics & Business Research (CEBR) said Europe’s weakening economy has led to a “revolution” as exporters look to emerging markets to sell their goods.
Economists at the CEBR predict the change could bring about a balance of payments surplus in 2015, the first since 1997.
Its research, published today, shows that, over the past three months, around 51 per cent of British exports went beyond the EU.
The latest figures show that, in the last quarter, exports to the EU were down by 7.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis, while goods shipped to non-EU countries were up by 13.2 per cent.
Scott Corfe, the CEBR’s senior economist, said: “In the past three months, a revolution in the orientation of British trade has taken place.”
The UK’s trading outlook shifted from its former colonies to the burgeoning European common market in the 1960s and 1970s.
Corfe said: “Now, with Europe mired in economic recession and other economies growing faster, exports are re-orienting themselves again towards the fast-growing emerging economies.”
It is a trend set to continue, according to a study carried out by the CEBR for insurer RSA, which predicted export growth of 30 per cent to Asia, more than 40 per cent to Latin America and more than 60 per cent to Africa over the next five years.
The increasing exposure of British exports to fast-growing economies is expected to transform the UK balance of payments, especially as imports are likely to be restrained by the squeeze on disposable incomes.