U.K. reports double-digit gains in 2018 exports

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British Marine today released its annual sales figures for 2018. The U.K. trade association said its domestic superyacht and marine industry saw 1.7 percent growth in total revenues last year, capping seven consecutive years of growth.

“The new figures also show that direct revenue from the marine industry trade has contributed over £1.1bn of Gross Value Added (GVA) [$1.46] to the UK economy, supporting over 33,000 direct employees in marine businesses across the UK,” said a statement. “In 2018 leisure marine exports surpassed £1bn [$1.32] for the first time since 2013, representing an increase of 16 percent compared to the previous year. This has been attributed to the strong global economic growth during 2018 and a weakened sterling as a consequence of Brexit, making British products stand out as being price competitive compared to their international rivals.”

The statement said that the Eurozone and wider EU now account for half (50%) of all industry exports. The USA now accounts for about 25 percent of British exports. The USA has also experienced a high level of growth, according to the statement, approaching 30 percent. Asia has also seen 20 percent growth and South America 39 percent.

“The UK domestic market remains flat, with Brexit related uncertainty making consumers nervous and reluctant to splash their cash on leisure items,” said the statement. “Consumer confidence has fallen into negative territory for the first time in five years, with the UK’s consumer confidence index falling to 99.95, compared to the recent high of 102.5 in April 2014.”

“These latest figures illustrate that the British boating sector has continued to prosper, despite challenging conditions and the ongoing uncertainty about Brexit,” said Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, in the statement. “A weakened pound has provided much-needed support to industry exports and with British holiday makers staying in the UK, nearly a third of tourism businesses are remaining positive about the future.”

Robinson added that with the EU exit deadline looming, “the future health of the industry” is not guaranteed. “Business confidence within the industry relies on consumer confidence and if this uncertainty continues the industry will pay the price,” he said.

Business confidence among British Marine members includes a positive net rating score of +26% concerning future prospects. The survey shows a decline of -4% compared to the 2017 edition, but a significant improvement on the -7% registered at the time of the EU referendum.

Lesley Robinson continued: “Leaving the EU could have many consequences for the British marine sector, putting a strain on the supply chain, increasing critical skills shortages and impacting business cash flow because of VAT payment uncertainty. The sector is robust, but a bad Brexit puts our success at risk.”

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