Top 10 nations Suffolk and Norfolk export to revealed
PUBLISHED: 18:45 02 July 2020
Seven of the 10 biggest nations Suffolk and Norfolk firms export to are EU nations, data has revealed.
But business leaders have pledged to ensure Brexit is as much of an opportunity for future economic growth as it is a challenge to overcome.
During a debate on Brexit by Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday, it emerged that EU nations made up seven of the top 10 countries Suffolk and Norfolk firms export to, according to 2015 data – with the value of exports to EU countries worth around £1.35billion in 2018.
MORE: LEP reveals projected impact of Brexit in East Anglia
The list as of 2015, including the annual value of exports, is as follows:
1 – Netherlands, £392million
2 – USA, £352m
3 – Ireland, £264m
4 – Germany, £228m
5 – France, £144m
6 – Italy, £110m
7 – Spain, £101m
8 – Belgium, £92m
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9 – Japan, £84m
10 – China, £71m
Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said that while the general trend nationally between 2015 and 2018 had been a gradual reduction in number of exports to EU nations, exports by Suffolk companies to the EU in that time had actually increased. In 2018 that £1.35bn value of exports to the EU compared to £840m export value to non-EU countries.
Mr Starkie said the chief challenges facing Suffolk firms were the availability of workers; tariffs on imported and exported goods; any changes in regulations; funding and investment opportunities and supply chains.
But business leaders are keen to make sure Brexit represents an opportunity for future growth.
Mr Starkie from the LEP said: “Our local industrial strategy focuses on positioning Suffolk and Norfolk as the clean growth region; highlights our exports in ICT and digital tech around Adastral Park and also Ipswich, in Bury in the west linking into Cambridge and the A14; our agricultural food exports and finally our energy and opportunities around clean energy in particular.”
East Suffolk Council’s strategic director Nick Khan said: “We are trying to create a story for investment in Suffolk and show we are relevant to the whole country and why the government should invest in us.
“45% of the country’s imports come through the Port of Felixstowe – we are highly significant.”
Despite the high proportion of Suffolk’s export customers being EU nations, most of the inbound freight through Felixstowe comes from non-EU nations.
Michael Chapman, trade business advisor from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said firms found that “Brexit was not a good word because it had a lot of baggage with it” and wanted clarity on future trading agreements both with EU and non-EU nations.
Particular concerns have been raised about Suffolk’s care sector, particularly around the cost and supply of key personal protective equipment and medicines, as well as availability of staff – a problem exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
David Finch, from the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, said: “We have huge recruitment issues within the care sector, despite having tried national and local campaigns.
“Ending freedom of movements will just exacerbate the situation further and place an additional level of strain on providers.”
The UK is in the transition phase of its withdrawal from the EU, with negotiations needing to be completed before December 31.
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