UK export future will rely on digital and data science, government says

Newly published strategy cites importance of technology in achieving goal to increase exports

The post-Brexit Export Strategy for the UK will rely on “maximising the potential of digital services and data science”, according to the government.

The government this week published its strategy “to make Britain a 21st century exporting superpower”. The plan’s ultimate goal is to increase by five percentage points the proportion of the country’s gross domestic product derived from exports.

Last year, £620bn of goods and services were exported from the UK – equating to 30% of the nation’s overall GDP. In the coming months and years, the governments wants to drive this figure up to 35%.

Its plans to achieve this hinge on five key principles – one of which is that the UK export strategy must be “digital by design”.

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“Maximising the potential of digital services and data science is essential if we are to provide both effective and scalable export support and a better customer experience for UK businesses,” the strategy said. “We will build digital services that make it as easy as possible for businesses to find, access and successfully navigate all export advice, support and information provided by government. In addition, we will invest in our ability to analyse and utilise data, to improve the services and products we provide and ensure they are tailored to the needs of businesses.”

The first of the other four principles is that the export strategy must adopt “a business-led approach”, with the government’s role being to support UK companies. Following on from this, the second principle is “doing only what government can do” – which might include leveraging relationships with other governments, and providing export finance.

The third principle is “joining up across government, with local partners and the private sector”. This will involve government working to ensure business organisations such as Local Enterprise Partnerships and Chambers of Commerce are working to best effect with local and central government entities.

The final principle is that government’s services for exporters should provide “value for money”.

The strategy added: “We will monitor and track the impact that we have in helping businesses export, and use feedback from businesses to ensure that we are allocating resources to the areas where we can make the biggest difference.”

In her foreword, prime minister Theresa May said that the Export Strategy builds on the foundations laid in last year’s Industrial Strategy.

“This Export Strategy sets out how government, working with the private sector, aims to put in place the right practical, promotional and financial support to help businesses to grow sustainably by exporting,” she said. “But this is just the start. We now begin work across government aimed at making wider changes to our business environment, backing UK business to achieve this bold aspiration.”

Sam Trendall

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