National Strategy

Made in the UK, Sold to the World” is the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) refreshed 2021 export strategy to support British businesses looking to export to the global market. Our strategy is a business-facing 12-point action plan to support new and existing exporters.

The 12-point strategy has a range of new and existing support measures, including:

· the Export Support Service (ESS)
· an expansion of the UK Export Academy
· a new UK Tradeshow Programme
· launching the ‘Made in the UK, Sold to the World’ campaign

The policy was published on 17 November 2021, download PDF “Made in the UK, Sold to the World” or browse web version below.

Foreword – the Prime Minister

Nearly 2 years ago, after decades in hibernation, the UK finally re-emerged on the world stage as an independent trading nation and global champion for free trade.

And since reclaiming our own chair at the WTO, our feet have barely touched the floor. Seldom has a week seemed to pass without another FTA being signed, sealed and delivered somewhere in the world. The numbers continue ticking relentlessly upwards but at the time of writing we’ve already secured agreements covering something like two-thirds of all British trade and with countries that run, if not quite from A to Z, then certainly from Albania to Vietnam.

But an FTA is ultimately just a tool. And while this blizzard of British diplomacy has been bad news for protectionists, mercantilists and isolationists the world over it will only be good news for British businesses and British workers if we learn to use that tool properly.

That’s what this strategy is all about. Helping you make the most of our new-found freedoms by bringing the whole government together to deploy a cornucopia of trade outposts in distant lands, experts to provide the support you need, trade shows to put you in the international shop window, finance for those who need it and more besides so that businesses large and small, from every sector, in every part of the United Kingdom can start selling to every market in the world.

It will help us build back better from the pandemic, giving businesses the support they need make the most of their potential and exploit the UK’s new competitive edge.

It will help take our green industrial revolution worldwide, making it easier than ever for UK companies to share cutting-edge carbon-free technology with the places where it’s needed most.

And it will help with this government’s core mission of levelling up the whole United Kingdom, spreading opportunity and prosperity right around the country.

It’s a welcome shot in the arm for UK PLC, the start of a new and exciting chapter for us all, and I look forward to working with employers of all shapes and sizes as we once again make the UK a nation that does business with the world.

Foreword – the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

Free trade agreements are the lifeblood of my department. But they won’t mean anything if UK businesses don’t take advantage of them.

That’s why, in setting out our new world-leading Export Strategy, I want to set some joint goals – goals for both business and government.

First, I want to fire the starting gun on the Race to a Trillion. UK exports are due to hit the £1 trillion mark by the mid-2030s, but I want us to hit that mark before then. I want us to be audacious and to aim for the end of the decade – not as a target, but as a goal.

Second, I want each and every corner of the UK to see exporting as a natural business goal. Exporting isn’t just for the South East of England. It can and must be a force for levelling up the UK.

And third, I want every business to see their products as a potential export. The Made in Britain logo has always been a stamp of quality – from Sheffield steel to Scotch whisky to Welsh lamb. But now that stamp could equally be on Peppa Pig or the Premier League. We export world-class services and culture as well as manufactured goods or agricultural produce.

To achieve these goals, we will need joint working between government and business. And we will need a change of mindset in both. That’s what this strategy sets out to achieve. Government will lend its weight to providing the advice, the expertise and the marketing. Business will do what it does best – selling its world-class products and services.

Our strategy responds to and anticipates changes in the global economy, by tilting towards the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, we will tighten ties with traditional trade allies, the source of prosperity over centuries. We know global markets want the UK’s high-quality goods and services. And we start from a position of strength – the UK is the world’s sixth largest exporter and the second largest services exporter.

Our future prosperity lies, in part, in exports. Exporting businesses are more competitive, pay higher wages and are more profitable. Global sales support local jobs. And international revenues boost the UK’s finances, so that we can reinvest in public services. Our strategy will therefore support our wider aspirations as a nation. Working with exporters of digital, artificial intelligence, shipbuilding and green goods and services will help realise our ambitions as a science and technology superpower and in the Net Zero transformation. Together, we can level up the country by sparking an exporting revolution that will ensure we build back better and stronger than ever.

Executive summary

There’s a world of opportunity, matched by the UK’s export potential — our strongest export markets are typically found in markets like the United States or Europe. However, the global economy is changing. Rapid economic growth in the Indo-Pacific region is shifting the world’s centre of economic gravity eastwards. The world economy is also expected to become more services-oriented, and the UK’s specialist sectors are predicted to grow faster than the global average.

Exports are a critical part of our economy — exports support millions of jobs in the UK and evidence suggests important links between trade and productivity. This export plan seeks to ensure these benefits are felt across the country. It will build the exporting capability of critical sectors, such as tech and clean economy. This will support the government’s Innovation Strategy, Net Zero Strategy and Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

We are refreshing our approach to meet our trading context — our 2018 Export Strategy laid strong foundations for export policy, promotion and support, but since then the trading environment has changed significantly. Our refreshed strategy will demonstrate how we will ensure certainty and continuity of the support we provide to exporters. It also sets out our new, clear strategic approach to capitalise on our new trade agreements and market access work.

Our ambition is to reach £1 trillion in exports annually — we want businesses to be ambitious in their exporting. Projections suggest that we will reach £1 trillion in exports annually by the mid-2030s, but we think can get there faster if we work together. We are therefore challenging business and government to Race to a Trillion. This strategy will be the joint framework for us to accelerate that race and grow our economy through exports.

Delivering in partnership with business is critical — the strategy will explore Better Support, Better Access to Finance and a Better Business Environment for exporters. Each of these is underpinned by Better Data to ensure we target our activity for the greatest impact. We will work with business on implementation and continue to challenge ourselves on improving our offer. We will use existing governance to monitor implementation and use our new monitoring and evaluation framework to assess our progress.

Made in the UK, Sold to the World — the strategy comprises a 12-point plan which sets out the path that government will take to transform our support offer and Build Back Better. This will allow the UK to level up and project Global Britain. Among other initiatives the plan includes a range of new support measures, including the new Export Support Service (ESS) and the UK Export Academy.

We will support strategic sectors and maximise our comparative advantage — we will seek to maximise on the potential of the UK’s world-leading sectors, such as digital services, clean economy, life sciences and creative industries. We will also focus on sectors of national significance such as agriculture, food and drink and shipbuilding. We are partnering with industry to provide impactful, sector-specific support.

We are ready to trade with our closest trading partners, emerging economies and developing markets — we know our work to open markets in the Indo-Pacific is critical if we want to maximise our comparative advantage and export performance. We will develop new relationships in these regions, for example through our accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). We will continue to strengthen ties with longstanding trading partners.

Our strategy is underpinned by core values — we take pride in our values, which align to exporting best practices, which we will uphold and reflect in our trade agreements. We will not compromise our commitments to protect the environment and tackle climate change through trade. We will continue to champion equality and opportunity for all. We are also committed to upholding rules-based trade.

A world of opportunity

Our strongest export markets are typically found in markets like the United States or Europe. However, the global economy is changing. Rapid economic growth in the Indo-Pacific region is shifting the world’s centre of economic gravity eastwards. China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey collectively are expected to equal the G7’s share of global import demand by 2050.[footnote 1] Other economies, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, are expected to grow even more rapidly in the coming decades.[footnote 2] Between 2000 and 2019, the Indo-Pacific region accounted for 50% of global economic growth in real terms. By 2050 this is expected to be 56%.[footnote 3]

The most successful exporting nations will need to create and sustain market share in these economies. Our assessments show that the UK’s comparative advantage in exporting high quality goods and services is particularly adapted to exploiting these markets. The markets for these goods and services is growing as the middle class expands.

Chart 1: Regional drivers of global economic growth in real terms [footnote 4]

Chart 2: World population by income threshold[footnote 5]

In 2019, there were around 1.7 billion ‘middle class’ consumers in the world – equivalent to 1 in every 5 people (Chart 2). By 2050, the global middle class could reach 3.5 billion people – equivalent to 1 in every 3 people. Over half of these middle-class consumers are likely to live in China and the Indo-Pacific.

Trade is expected to become gradually more services oriented, as rising incomes shift spending patterns in emerging markets and as moves to enhance supply chain resilience lead to increased reshoring of manufacturing. By 2030, services sectors are expected to account for 77% of global gross domestic product (GDP), up from 75% in 2019. At the same time the UK’s specialist sectors are expected to grow faster than the global average in the coming decade.[footnote 6] Global import demand for UK specialist sectors is expected to grow from £6 trillion in 2019 to £9.2 trillion by 2030.[footnote 7]

Chart 3 – Global GDP by sector, 2019 to 2030
[footnote 8]

Free trade is evolving, and the UK has an important opportunity to trade more and trade differently. We are embarking on a new era in our trading relationships, negotiating innovative, world-leading free trade agreements with the markets of the future. By aligning our agreements and relationships to UK priorities, we are creating export opportunities that work for all parts of the UK. For example, our new free trade agreement with Japan, while delivering benefits across the economy, contains cutting edge digital and data provisions which support UK tech and digital-savvy firms to export to Japan.

We also want our exporters to be active in developing markets. For example, our recent government- to- government agreement with Peru has opened a new market for many UK businesses, with opportunities in the portfolio worth £1.7 billion. As we Build Back Better, developing countries will benefit from high quality UK project expertise, as we committed to in the G7 Carbis Bay agreement. UK exporters can access opportunities in emerging markets that are opened and supported by the UK’s development work including Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending, such as from the British Support for Infrastructure Projects (BSIP) programme and Growth Gateway.

The aim of this refreshed strategy is to help UK business to grow through exporting. Whether through manufacturing or services, if we embrace that collective mission, nominal exports have the potential to reach £800 billion by 2030, and £1 trillion by the mid-2030s, or even sooner if we can get more businesses across the UK exporting.[footnote 9] This strategy will help make that projection a reality.

Our strategic context

Now is a pivotal moment for UK exporters. We must seize the export opportunity of an independent trade policy by negotiating UK trade agreements and making exporting easier for UK business so we can Build Back Better. Exports support millions of jobs, enable small businesses to increase their productivity, and extend the UK’s economic ties across the globe. Our export plan lays the groundwork for UK exporters to thrive. We are fundamentally an open and liberalised economy that is ready to do business and trade with the world.

We are taking important steps across our domestic policy to build our exporting capability in critical sectors, such as the clean economy and technology. Our Innovation Strategy, Net Zero Strategy and Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will shape the UK as a science superpower. Measures like Help to Grow will raise the productive capacity of business, and help firms internationalise in the process. We will capitalise on the government’s economic policy development. We will cement our exporting values of competitive imports, innovative ideas and foreign demand, all underpinned by a resilient and productive business base.

Our strategic approach

Business has asked for consistency in policy, so this strategy builds on our 2018 Export Strategy.

We will continue to:

· encourage and inspire businesses that can export but have not started or are just beginning
· inform businesses by providing information, advice and practical assistance on exporting from the public or private sector, or their peers
· connect UK businesses to overseas buyers, international markets, and each other
· put finance at the heart of our offer

This strong platform is the basis for our action-oriented refreshed strategy. It will enable us to adapt to the changes demanded by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and make the most of our legislative freedom.

To take advantage of new trading opportunities made possible by new free trade agreements, this approach will allow us to:

· encourage and inspire businesses, and promote UK exporters in markets including those where we have signed, or are negotiating a free trade agreement.

· give businesses the right information to benefit from these trade agreements, and make it easier to trade

· connect UK businesses to overseas buyers or intermediaries, and ensure we are engaged with business and governments as we implement agreements or resolve barriers to trade

Taken together, we will support companies globally to take advantage of the preferential terms we have secured, no matter what stage they are at in their export journey.

Our ambition

The world has moved on since 2018. The UK has left the EU. We are recovering from a profound crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, deeper shifts are accelerating growth in Indo-Pacific markets and in future-oriented services sectors powered by innovations in digital technology. As we emerge from the crisis and turn our eyes to the future, we believe that we should set ourselves a bold national ambition. This is a whole-economy endeavour to mobilise our efforts in support of our project to boost exporting in Britain.

Race to a Trillion

In 2019, the Conservative Manifesto promised to redouble efforts towards exporting and we want to set an ambitious target to realise this commitment. We are challenging government and business to Race to a Trillion, with a shared ambition of lifting UK exports to £1 trillion each year.

Our projections suggest that we will reach this level of exports in the mid-2030s, but we think we can do better if we work together. Our refreshed Export Strategy embodies a 12-point plan for exports that will be the joint framework for business and government to work together to accelerate our Race to a Trillion.

Making it happen

We need to act now. Exporting is critical to UK jobs, and we know international markets are becoming increasingly competitive. UK trade agreements pave the way for easier exporting, and we must capitalise on our new trading relationships to take exporters to the fast-growing markets of the future.

Our action-focused plan will deliver:

· better support – transforming our service offering to new and existing exporters, being more joined up and more digital to reach small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at scale
· better access to finance – ensuring no viable export fails due to lack of finance or insurance
· a better business environment – making it easier to export, raising the competitiveness of all UK exporters and helping developing country partners to improve the climate for trade
· better data – harnessing new technologies and legal powers to target support, inform policy and identify export opportunities
Our effort will be focused on where we can add value. We will not try to offer services that the market is better placed to provide. Rather we will focus on where markets fail and where we can add value. We will do what only governments can do.

Working in partnership with business is critical to our success. Whether resolving market access barriers, enhancing our trade diplomacy or providing critical support and finance, we will choose partnership to unlock the UK’s economic and exporting potential. We will work with business to foster positive change in the culture of exporting for all parts of the UK, all local communities, and all sectors of the economy. In joint enterprise, business and government can work together to build a Global Britain of commerce and trade.

In this spirit, we will work closely with business representative organisations, trade associations and the UK’s sector leaders to champion UK businesses of all sizes on the world stage. We will work with all UK nations, the mayoral combined authorities, local authorities, the British chambers and regional partners such as the Midlands Engine Partnership, NP11 and the planned Northern Powerhouse growth body. We will work with these partner organisations to capitalise on their networks and regional insight. This strategy will also align with the wider business support offer, including growth hubs, as part of the wider Enterprise Strategy, to be launched in 2022.

As a signal of this intent, and in recognition of the critical role, insight, and leverage of business in this joint endeavour, we will support the launch of the Trade in Services Council (TISC) alongside this Export Strategy. Led by industry and with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT), it will include trade associations and a wide range of services companies of all sizes to bring together a collective voice on cross-services priorities related to the promotion of international trade.

We applaud the services sector coming together to create this Council, coordinated by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). It will be an important forum to boost trade in services across the UK, working in partnership with government to articulate the value of services trade to the UK economy. We will also be working in close partnership with business through our engagement fora to oversee the implementation of the strategy.

These new projects will bring business and government together to take an action-oriented, economy-wide view of how we best implement and realise the ambitions in this strategy. Our export plan will put business at the heart of decision-making on the steps that we collectively take to embrace the opportunities that flow from our independent trade policy.

Introducing our 12-point plan: Made in the UK, Sold to the World

This is a national effort, led by business, supported by government.

Here is how government will play its part:

1. Last month we launched the new ESS, our first ever end-to-end service to support businesses exporting to Europe. Over £45 million in funding has been awarded over the Spending Review 2021 period for the digital transformation of DIT’s export support services, delivered through an expansion of ESS to cover all markets.

2. In September we opened new offices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and a second DIT HQ in Darlington, with dedicated teams that for the first time will focus on extending the opportunities from the government’s international trade work across the UK, levelling up export growth and supporting jobs. This is historic.

3. Through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Internationalisation Fund is providing 7,500 SMEs in England with financial assistance to export and internationalise. We will launch the UK SME Export Support Fund, to provide SMEs with financial assistance to internationalise.

4. Our world-leading export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), will expand its products and delivery network to boost support to UK exporters and their overseas buyers.

5. We will focus on strengthening a joint approach, connecting governments and business through our global networks.

6. We will extend the reach and range of our pilot Export Academy to offer bespoke training programmes and digital tools to help businesses navigate the technicalities of exporting and find opportunities overseas.

7. We will extend our community of Export Champions, ensuring businesses can build and learn from exporting successes through business-to-business networking and peer-to-peer learning.

8. We will champion the government’s priority sectors through our innovative campaign Made in the UK, Sold to the World.

9. We are piloting our UK Tradeshow Programme (UKTP) to propel our efforts and promote Team UK at the world’s largest tradeshows.

10. We will put exporting at the heart of reforms to regulations, cross-government measures and regulatory diplomacy to help foster the conditions for exporting businesses to thrive.

11. We will utilise the UK government’s international teams based in over 180 global markets to provide sector and market specific support to innovative, high growth companies to help them grow internationally.

12. We will continue to open new markets for UK exporters through our new trade deals, with the ambition of covering 80% of UK trade by the end of 2022, and broader work to remove market access barriers.

1. Export Support Service

We have created a new end-to-end ESS for UK exporters.

Through the ESS we have developed a single point of contact and entry for exporters to Europe.

Over £45 million funding has been awarded over the Spending Review 2021 period for the digital transformation of DIT’s export support services, delivered through an expansion of DIT’s new Europe-focused ESS to cover all markets.

The ESS has 3 main aims:

simplify guidance and access to support for business

target specific difficulties businesses are having in exporting to Europe

promote the opportunities and support government offers

If you’re a UK business selling goods or services to Europe, you can contact the UK government export support team by phone or online.

Our staff are here to provide guidance on:

exporting to new markets

paperwork you need to sell your goods abroad

rules for a specific country where you want to sell services

To ask the export support team a question, visit

This is the first end-to-end support service for exporters. Built with the expertise from our highly regarded International Trade Advisers, ESS has a single point of entry and interactive service provision, working closely with British Embassies and High Commissioners to support businesses in-market.

In the longer term, we are working to ensure that export services are digital by default and to create a seamless journey across GOV.UK. We will also use the insight gained from working with businesses to shape future UK government policy, ensuring exporter interests are factored into decisions. Finally, subject to the success of the programme, we will be expanding ESS to support businesses exporting to anywhere in the world.

Going forward, we will be aligning ESS with other DIT initiatives to create an export system that supports businesses at all stages of their export journey. This will include providing global in-market insight, business connections and export support for high potential SMEs to help them break into and grow in new markets. The reform of this overseas support is already active in the China, North America, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner (HMTC) regions. We will be rolling out the service in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan HMTC region over the next few months. From April 2022, we will expand to Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Asia Pacific and South Asia HMTC regions.

2. Supporting exporters across all parts of the UK

We will extend the reach of our export services across the whole of the United Kingdom. As part of this mission, we will invest significant new resource in ensuring that potential exporters across the country can access the support that they need to grow their business through exporting.

Previously, DIT’s presence has been largely localised to our headquarters in London.

To increase our capacity to support businesses across the UK, we have:

· opened new Trade and Investment offices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

· established a second DIT HQ in Darlington

DIT will have over 550 roles stationed in these offices by 2025.

Through these offices we will support businesses to export, attract investment and take advantage of the opportunities of our new FTAs. We will engage businesses on trade policy and market access issues that reflect local priorities and the competitive advantage of sectors and specialisms around the UK.

The UK government, through DIT, is responsible for international trade agreements. We share with the devolved administrations the responsibility to help businesses in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to export. Our dedicated nation teams, alongside the Local Enterprise Partners (LEPs), will articulate and amplify our offer in each home nation, providing better access to our global network. Our Export Strategy will bolster and complement Wales’s Export Action Plan, Northern Ireland’s 10X Economy and Scotland: A Trading Nation. Our offer will also support business sectors important to the local economies on the world stage through campaigns and by ensuring that UK trade policy reflects the diversity of the UK.

The brilliant endeavours of UK exporters are exemplified by the recipients of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. This scheme promotes outstanding business achievement in International Trade and other areas. We will use our new local presence around the country to encourage more exporters to apply to the scheme.

By being closer to the communities and businesses we support, our future operations will be based on a better understanding of the challenges faced by local populations and industries.

Case study: Queen’s Award for International Trade
Hiretech Limited is a leading, independent equipment rental and personnel supply company, based near Aberdeen in Scotland.

“We have enjoyed the success of achieving a Queen’s Award, both in terms of the recognition of the hard work and dedication of our staff, and also the vast promotional and profile-raising opportunities it has created for Hiretech.” – Hiretech

3. Financial support for exporters

We have launched the £37.8 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Internationalisation Fund, which provides 7,500 SMEs in England with financial assistance to build their capability to internationalise. We know that UK businesses continue to face a range of barriers to exporting. 57% of UK businesses reported ‘costs’ as a moderate or strong barrier to exporting.[footnote 10]

SMEs can receive matched grant funding of up to £9,000 to support a range of export-related business activities and overcome barriers to trade.

This includes market research, visits, advice to protect UK intellectual property, attendance at trade fairs, translation services, consultancy and more.

This advice and support will provide businesses with the tools they need to create jobs, raise productivity, and thrive overseas.

We’ve listened to business and know you want government grants to be consolidated and more accessible. We have £23 million set aside to support exporters in 2022 and are considering how best to enhance our support offer from 2023 onwards.

Case study: Gordon Rhodes
Gordon Rhodes has been in business over 40 years supplying spices and seasonings to retail, meat manufacturers and butchers throughout the UK.

After a devastating factory fire Gordon Rhodes were looking to rebuild the brand and one option was to try and sell overseas. Through research they recognised that the US market was strong and consumers there valued UK products, so identified a potential market for their range of products.

Gordon Rhodes received support from their International Trade Adviser to access grant funding through the Internationalisation Fund (supported by the European Regional Development Fund). This allowed them to pay for specialist advice to protect their Intellectual Property and packaging designs in the US market. Gordon Rhodes have also attended DIT webinars and events to gain an understanding of various foreign markets.

“We would not have been in a position to take advantage of the overseas opportunities without the help and support of DIT.” – Gordon Rhodes

4. UK Export Finance

UKEF, the UK’s world-class export credit agency, will expand availability of its products to better support the finance needs of UK exporters and take advantage of the UK’s new FTAs.

UKEF supports UK exporters and suppliers of goods and services with access to finance and insurance where the private sector is unable to, helping UK business win, fulfil and get paid for international trade. As the economic recovery continues, UKEF will expand its offering, continuing to support exporters and suppliers across the whole of the UK and contributing to economic growth and employment.

Supporting exporters through the economic cycle

The pandemic period has been particularly difficult for businesses, and UKEF has been at the forefront of the government’s response to support companies through the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 to 2021 6 out of 10 SMEs reported a decline in growth and profitability and the demand for finance increased.[footnote 11] During this period, UKEF saw a significant increase in demand from companies of all sizes, and provided £12.3 billion in finance and insurance for UK exporters and supporting around 107,000 jobs.

Enhancing UKEF’s offer

Working with the Office for Investment and the UK Infrastructure Bank, UKEF will now support companies’ investment into future UK exports. UKEF’s Export Development Guarantee (EDG) allows UKEF to provide 80% guarantees on loans of £25 million and above to support companies’ general expenditure, including facilities, research and development and general operations. Under this strategy, UKEF will expand eligibility for the EDG to companies that do not currently export, including those that do not have operations in the UK but are seeking finance to establish themselves here and export. By enabling international investment into UK export capabilities, this will support the development of UK supply chains in new high-growth sectors.

Supporting the development of exports in new clean growth sectors and technologies remains a priority. As part of its new commitment to achieving net zero across its portfolio and operations by 2050, UKEF will offer green economy exporters access to increased lending capacity. UKEF will provide its EDG on extended repayment terms so they can seize new export opportunities and invest in future export capacity.

UKEF will ensure that it continues to meet the financing needs of exporters, large and small, across the whole of the UK. To do so, it will work closely with partners from the private sector and with other UK government bodies. This includes the UK’s Development Finance Institution, CDC, and the British Business Bank to enhance export opportunities and ensure partner governments are aware of the full UK financing and investment offer.

Smaller exporters face specific challenges in accessing finance and UKEF has made considerable strides in its support for SMEs in recent years. The General Export Facility (GEF) was introduced in 2020 to unlock working capital to support a business’s overall growth, rather than being tied to a specific export contract. UKEF has now increased the amount companies can access automatically from their bank, without the need for separate approval. UKEF is also working to expand its range of delivery partner financial institutions, including challenger banks and alternative lenders, to allow more businesses to access support.

To ensure we can help SMEs offer their buyers attractive payment terms, UKEF will shortly launch a new, simplified Bills and Notes Guarantee. This will allow SME exporters to be paid immediately while a financing bank subsequently seeks payment from the overseas buyer on the basis of bills of exchange or promissory notes. These instruments are more relevant for smaller businesses and lower value exports and can be arranged at lower cost. Alongside the Standard Buyer Loan Guarantee launched earlier this year, this new product means UKEF can effectively support the full range of debt finance instruments SMEs use in international trade.

UKEF also helps SMEs secure opportunities with the large international projects it supports through supplier fairs. These procurement-led events connect contractors and overseas buyers with UK exporters and suppliers. Through its overseas network, UKEF will continue to seek out opportunities to capitalise on demand for world-leading UK goods and services, giving SMEs opportunities they normally wouldn’t have exposure to.

Through its SME-targeted marketing campaign, The Exporter’s Edge, and its network of export finance managers across the UK, UKEF is engaging with business more than ever. When businesses are unable to secure the finance they need to export, they can have the confidence that they can come to UKEF. We are also actively working to build exporter understanding of access to finance by supporting the DIT Export Academy to launch a dedicated finance module in 2022.

Case study: Simworx
UKEF supported Simworx, a technology company from Kingswinford, enabling them to complete projects in countries around the world including Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Through its bank, HSBC, Simworx took advantage of UKEF’s General Export Facility (GEF). Simworx was provided with additional working capital to help finance their export business. Exports constitute approximately 90% of Simworx’s annual turnover and through GEF it has been able to raise advance payment guarantees to secure significant overseas contracts worth up to £8 million.

Simworx has built its presence in the Middle East, Far East and Northern Europe and now plans for future expansion in these emerging markets post COVID-19.

5. Government-to-government partnerships (G2G)

UKEF’s financial backing will be underpinned by a new G2G provision. Led by DIT, this will ensure that UK businesses can access government business in critical markets around the world.

We know that businesses value partnerships with government, particularly when working in new or unfamiliar markets, and that global demand for government partnerships is growing. UK government teams in Embassies and High Commissions around the world can help by building relationships, and identifying and creating opportunities for major commercial partnerships linked to government-to-government cooperation.

We will focus on strengthening a joint approach, connecting government and business through our global networks.

Our approach will put partnership at its core and, working together with industry, will seek innovative solutions and clean growth approaches. Contributing to the UK’s new Clean and Green Initiative, we will work with partners to address the infrastructure gap in developing countries. Our ambition is to support UK companies where they can really make a difference.

We have taken the first steps in the defence and security sectors and have added financial reinforcement through UKEF’s support as a vital part of the offer. We can and will go further, broadening our offer to a wider range of sectors.

Case study: Reconstruction with Changes
Following severe damage caused by climate cycle El Niño in Peru in 2017, Peru established the Reconstruction with Changes Authority to prioritise the rebuilding of vital infrastructure throughout the country. In summer 2020, DIT signed a G2G agreement with the Government of Peru to support the reconstruction of the country’s public services facilities.

The G2G portfolio supported by the UK, valued at £1.7 billion, covers 118 interventions in the nine coastal regions of Peru. The programme’s UK delivery team (Arup, Gleeds and Mace) provides project management capability and technical assistance working side-by-side with the Reconstruction Authority.

Our partnership will support the delivery of schools for over 44,500 children and enable healthcare for a population of over 1.45 million citizens. This partnership will also plant 56 million seedlings to support a nature-based solution for flood prevention works and the sequestration of carbon. This programme will implement the world’s largest integrated early warning system.

6. UK Export Academy

Our new UK Export Academy will offer SMEs the chance to learn how to navigate the technicalities of exporting and how to find new opportunities in overseas markets.

To meet our Race to a Trillion ambition, we want to help businesses looking to grow to move from reacting to incoming orders to proactively seeking new export opportunities. Our new Export Academy will help SME exporters meet their growth ambitions by learning directly from experts in international trade. In teaching them how to sell to international customers and secure contracts around the world, the Export Academy will help SMEs set their global ambitions high.

The Export Academy is an online facility available to a wide range of businesses and designed for owners and senior managers of SMEs. The core course of webinars and other virtual events such as masterclasses, mentoring, roundtables and networking events will give SMEs the tools and knowledge they need to start their export journey.

Our foundation course helps build the knowledge and confidence of SMEs that are new to exporting or want to start exporting. This course includes 10 educational online seminars businesses will leave that will help firms create an export action plan tailored to their business.

Our sector faculties will support businesses with sector-specific webinars, masterclasses, and virtual missions. Even more experienced exporters have something to gain from the sector faculties. Our tailored learning will support them to improve their export capabilities and operate effectively in specific foreign markets or sectors. For example, to stimulate space sector opportunities, the Space Sector Export Academy has already completed its first programme supporting SMEs to access the Australian market.

Our market access events will outline the benefits of new market opportunities, including from new free trade agreements.

The Export Academy is open to any business in the UK who has a product or service that can be sold internationally. It is for businesses who want to reach international customers and contracts, whether just starting their export journey or expanding into new markets.

Businesses can register now at

Case study: Avacare
Avacare first approached DIT for help to identify potential target markets, develop an export plan and understand export financing options, as well as for introductions to overseas buyers. With advice from DIT and the local chamber in Singapore, they have secured an export deal in Singapore worth around £220k over 5 years.

This contract constitutes an important entry into the Asian market for Avacare. Since the deal, there has been significant growth in the business, with turnover increasing from approximately £40,000 to £325,000 in the last 5 years. Currently, 95% of Avacare’s products are being exported.

7. Our exporting networks across the UK

We will develop our network of Export Champions across the UK. These experienced exporters are ready to offer their time to help businesses grow private sector links through the exporting journey.

We recognise the power of business-to-business networking. DIT’s Export Champion Community of 1,700 individuals promotes the benefits of exporting amongst their peers and enables us to better understand the needs of business.

Export Champion – Jon Tibbs OBE, Chairman and Founder, Jon Tibbs Associates
“Immerse yourself in the culture of your export customers. They will notice and appreciate every effort you make.”

We have handpicked over 400 Export Champions.

These experienced exporters, primarily CEOs, Sales Directors or Export Managers from a wide variety of sectors share their knowledge and personal stories to promote exporting by:

· participating as speakers and panel members in programmes such as the Parliamentary Export Programme and Export Academy, providing informal advice and inspiring new potential exporters

· featuring in DIT campaigns and media opportunities, and often amplifying these through their own networks

· hosting ministerial and VIP visits and roundtables

· offering business insights to help inform DIT policy

· in the case of many, undertaking their own activities and media in addition to the opportunities we provide

Case study: Dr. PAWPAW
Dr. PAWPAW was created in 2013 when the daughter of its founders, Johnny and Pauline Paterson, was diagnosed with eczema, leading to the need for a natural alternative to normal steroid prescription creams.

DIT recommended that the company exhibit at Cosmoprof Bologna in 2015. Through further careful recommendation, guidance and support, DIT has helped Dr. PAWPAW achieve over £1 million in sales.

Johnny is now supporting other businesses through DIT’s UK Export Champions network, enabling more businesses to access guidance from experienced traders.

“A massive thank you to DIT for its incredible contribution to securing our export business status over the years.” – Dr. PAWPAW

Export Champion – Laura Gunderson, Head of Commercial Development, BigVit’s
“Always talk to your local DIT International Trade Adviser, they have a wealth of knowledge and a fantastic network of contacts they can connect you to, to help drive your export strategy forward.”

8. Export Campaign – Made in the UK, Sold to the World

We will extend our hugely successful Export Campaign designed to promote great UK products and services, with the agri-food and drink sector at its core amongst others.

Our new cross-cutting, national export promotion campaign Made in the UK, Sold to the World hosts trade promotion activities across the UK. The campaign engages with businesses and signposts them to the support they need to seize exporting opportunities. Our campaign has already begun with work to celebrate and support exporters in education, agriculture and the creative services. The campaign includes events, masterclasses, webinars, trade missions, ‘Meet the Buyer’ events, businesses roundtables, ministerial visits and much more.

Simultaneously, the GREAT campaign promotes the UK as the preferred supplier of goods and services in international markets. Whilst GREAT focuses on the supply-side, our overseas network with its global reach identifies markets UK businesses can meet. We will connect buyers to UK firms and ensure the smallest businesses from every region can champion Global Britain. We will help both those exporting for the first time and established exporters wanting to grow their market share.

We will open and promote new markets and trade opportunities, so that UK exporters can reap the benefits. We will focus domestically and internationally in the following sectors:

· agri-food and drink
· financial, professional and business services
· creative industries
· education
· tech and digital
· consumer and luxury goods
· clean growth

Our objective is to enable economic recovery through exports and create jobs across the UK. Our message to businesses is simple: grow by exporting.

Case study: GeneFirst
GeneFirst is a UK molecular diagnostics company focused on infectious diseases, cancer diagnostics and personalised medicine. It is a proactive developer and supplier of RT-PCR COVID-19 kits, including kits for Variants of Concern.

“DIT has been very supportive in terms of building the GeneFirst brand awareness by introducing the organisation to potential distributors in regions deemed key targets for GeneFirst – in particular, Europe and South America. We believe this to have an impact for GeneFirst in increasing visibility and market reach for our other portfolios, including cervical cancer screening and Next Generation Sequencing for oncology testing.” – GeneFirst

9. Piloting a new UK Tradeshow Programme

International tradeshows are an invaluable opportunity for businesses to showcase their products to consumers and partners. Particularly for SMEs, tradeshows are a critical platform to access international markets. The networks developed at international tradeshows, often between innovative and established businesses, can be vital to developing sales and stimulating growth.

We want to ensure that we have the best programme in place to equip goods and services exporters to succeed in these platforms. We therefore plan to launch a new UK Tradeshow Programme (UKTP) until April 2023. The UKTP will be launched as a pilot to allow us to work with business to assess different approaches to encouraging businesses’ participation at overseas tradeshows through training.

UKTP is a service which aims to support UK-based SMEs to understand the benefits of exhibiting at overseas tradeshows and how they can maximise on their participation. We will support businesses in 2 ways.

Firstly, by supporting them with training and with grants to attend key tradeshows as a precursor to making the decision to exhibit there – so the business can decide how best to use the show in future.

Secondly, through the provision of essential market knowledge from trade experts to ensure that businesses exhibiting at some of the world’s most prestigious tradeshows can make the most out of showcasing their quality products and services. Some businesses will also receive a grant of up to £4,000 to count towards eligible exhibition costs.

Participants in the programme will receive both generic and event-specific training on how to make the most of tradeshows.

SMEs can apply to take part in UKTP through a new, simplified digital platform, making it easier for businesses across the UK to apply, and for DIT to monitor the pilot scheme’s effectiveness and ensure we can deliver the best support for business.

DIT is committed to working in partnership with trade associations, which have a vital role in supporting their industries. We have a joint goal of supporting businesses as they recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DIT also continues to run overseas trade missions across a large variety of sectors and markets. These are designed to boost growing bilateral trade ties, demonstrating what British businesses have to offer on the global stage. This year, we have run missions highlighting tech and digital, fintech, food and drink, healthcare and life sciences and clean growth industries, to name just a few.

UK-based tradeshows are another route to attracting export business.
One such tradeshow is Security and Policing (S&P), led by the Home Office, now approaching its 40th year. International delegations attend S&P to see first-hand UK security capabilities that might help address capability gaps in their nation state, thereby creating export opportunities for UK companies.

“We have been exhibiting at Security and Policing for over 5 years. During that time, we have seen a significant growth in our overseas business and the show has undoubtedly contributed to that success.” – cellXion Ltd

10. Making exporting easier

The trade agreements we negotiate with other governments can make exporting easier. But we will also make conditions for trade easier for businesses by putting exporting at the heart of our own UK government policies and programmes. We will do this by making our borders and trade processes work smoothly and seamlessly and ensuring our approach to regulation supports trade.

Better regulation

Transparent and effective regulation will help DIT to conclude FTAs and maintain the UK’s global reputation as a good place to do business for exporters. As part of the UK’s new global trading freedom, we will prioritise innovation, competition, growth and inward investment. We will continue to build upon the UK’s global reputation for leadership in setting the highest standards of environmental, social and consumer protection. We have taken a whole of government approach to supporting businesses.

In addition, the Professional Qualifications Bill, currently going through Parliament, enables the government to empower regulators to strike deals on the recognition of professional qualifications with overseas counterparts, boosting UK businesses exporting services. It will also revoke EU-derived laws to give more autonomy to UK regulators to decide on the right approach to the recognition of overseas professional qualifications, tailored to suit the needs of their profession.

Case study: Freeports
Freeports will play a significant role in boosting trade, attracting inward investment and driving productive activity across all areas of the UK. They will create high-skilled jobs in ports and the areas around them, prioritising some of our most deprived communities to level up the UK economy.

Producers based in freeports will benefit from tax reliefs on capital investment, business rates and national insurance within freeport sites, alongside duty deferrals, inversions, VAT relief and simpler customs processes within customs sites – with the potential to enable re-exporting to international markets. Through this combination of special customs zones, tax reliefs at tax sites, and a wide range of other support, UK freeports will empower UK businesses to make the most of their exporting opportunities.

Regulatory diplomacy

We will use regulatory diplomacy overseas to share and influence global norms, regulations and standards, to improve market access for UK exporters, particularly in sectors critical to the UK’s future economic growth. We will tackle the regulations and standards required for exports that increasingly integrate digital and data, protecting and increasing market access. We will leverage the UK’s reputation as a leader and innovator in standards setting, and promote our approach of including UK businesses and industry in the standard setting process. We will also promote further regulatory co-operation internationally and between Commonwealth members, and other close trading partners.

Development cooperation

Our overseas development programmes led by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) help to improve the environment for trade in developing countries and emerging economies, benefitting local businesses as well as UK exporters and investors. We support markets to develop through co-operation on areas such as standards, regulations, infrastructure, economic management and financial markets, helping to improve economic growth and flows of trade and investment. This helps developing countries to reduce poverty, while also creating a more conducive environment for UK businesses to operate and improving the resilience and quality of supply chains.

2025 UK Border Strategy

Our ambition is for the UK border to be the best in the world. A major part of this is helping to ensure that the practical barriers to exporting are as low as possible.

In 2020, the UK government published the 2025 UK Border Strategy establishing transformations to the UK border that the Cabinet Office, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and government will ensure as the most effective and efficient in the world. As part of this, relevant departments are developing the Single Trade Window (STW), a single gateway for all data from traders into government. This streamlining of how businesses interact with the UK border will ease the business burden through efficiency and cost savings.

Through the UK’s new points-based immigration system, we are creating Skilled Worker, Global Talent and Health and Care visa routes, and suspending caps on skilled workers. Bespoke immigration routes will enable more students, scientists, academics, investors and entrepreneurs to come to the UK and contribute to our economic growth. The new system will also support companies, including SMEs, in high-growth sectors to recruit the right people into the right roles.

Digital trade

Innovation in trade facilitation does not stop at the border. We want trade between businesses and across borders to be easier, more digital and seamless. Digital trade is crucial to transforming the way in which commerce is transacted worldwide.

Internationally, we are leading the way through our trade policy. We are concluding a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore. To go further at home, government will legislate, when parliamentary time allows, to introduce electronic trade records for B2B trade. This will streamline the process for business by removing the need for paper documents for some trade documentation. As well as increasing the efficiency of business interactions with the border, it will also directly support driving down costs, increasing security and would reducing our carbon footprint.

Our Digital Exporting Programme, which has helped thousands of businesses grow their global market digitally, will continue supporting companies through our digital trade and ecommerce experts, tools and global network of partners.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) tech sector team works to ensure that digital businesses can grow and thrive in the UK before expanding to other markets. This is achieved through access to finance, talent and markets, strategic communications campaigns, and the work of Tech Nation, which serves to generate confidence in the sector. We will also continue to support the development of Digital Boost, an organisation that provides small businesses and charities with pro bono digital advice from a network of over 2,000 digital experts.

11. Our global reach

We will strengthen our support in markets overseas to provide the networks of skilled advisers needed to support our critical exporting sectors.

Led by Her Majesty’s Ambassadors, High Commissioners and 9 Trade Commissioners, UK government staff around the world will contribute to levelling up in the UK. We will open markets, build global partnerships across sectors of UK strength, and help to grow the markets for UK goods and services through our overseas aid programme.

We will connect UK companies to buyers and ensure the tools of government are employed to support exporters to succeed in their journey. Our activities across the globe will seek to increase the competitiveness of existing exporters as well as facilitate the engagement of new businesses. We will continue to work to promote outward investment opportunities, which are vital to establishing new supply chains and export opportunities for UK firms.

The Prime Minister has appointed 33 Trade Envoys to raise our export potential. Appointed from Parliament and across the political spectrum, Trade Envoys strengthen the UK’s commercial ties in markets across the globe. Whether leading trade delegations or meeting foreign governments, they will work to ensure that UK businesses including SMEs can compete on the world stage and seize the export opportunity of the next decade.

This effort is complemented by an expert global network of International Export Finance Executives. This network brings local market, commercial and political knowledge together with UKEF support to change the way exporters can access markets. UKEF will expand this network from 15 to 30, based in important regional hubs such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, and the Balkans.

The UK government, in our Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates, works as one team to promote the interests of the UK. From collaboration in defence, migration, or science and technology, to advising businesses on the political and economic environment, or leveraging long-developed partnerships in growth sectors for the UK, we are working as one HMG to open opportunities for UK businesses. Our development finance and investment support complement this, promoting growth and poverty reduction in developing markets.

In the fastest growing tech markets of the Asia Pacific region, the UK’s new Digital Trade Network is increasing the UK’s technology expertise on the ground. Powered by a talented network of trade experts and Tech Nation’s new international programmes, it adds an extra level of support to UK tech companies seeking to export to this exciting region. This network focuses on providing expert trade support, supporting the adoption of digital technology; and creating new regulatory space for future British innovations.

Under this strategy the FCDO is planning to roll out its British Support for Infrastructure Projects (BSIP) programme, formerly known as the Developing Markets Infrastructure Programme (DMIP). This programme will help low income and lower-middle income countries to prepare, procure and finance high-quality, developmental public infrastructure projects that require funding support. BSIP will target sectors and geographies of UK strategic interest to take advantage of both developmental and trade objectives and can be blended with export credits including from UKEF. BSIP will help to level out the playing field with other countries’ concessional finance offers.

Outward direct investment case study: Konexa, Nigeria
Konexa is pioneering a new energy service model to improve the energy service provided to consumers and businesses. In Nigeria, Konexa has deployed its ground-breaking integrated distribution model and upgraded 6,600 existing energy connections and 1,100 new energy connections.

The £65 million investment will break the vicious cycle of under-investment in transmission and distribution and will do so drawing on mainly renewable sources of hydro and solar, connecting off-grid customers through least-cost technology. This project will create an estimated 75 permanent jobs directly and indirectly and reflects an important export into the Nigerian market.

DIT will support Konexa to reach 10 more viable states across Nigeria and is currently mapping out other viable African countries in need of Konexa’s intervention.

12. Opening markets worldwide

We will continue to open new markets for UK exporters through free trade deals, addressing market access barriers identified by business and reforming the international trading system.

Leaving the EU has given the UK the opportunity to implement an independent trade policy for the first time in nearly 50 years. The UK can now pursue its own trade agreements, aimed squarely at making it easier for UK businesses to trade and securing access for UK exporters into overseas markets.

The UK has already negotiated trade agreements with 70 countries plus the EU.[footnote 12] These countries accounted for £766 billion of UK bilateral trade in 2020.[footnote 13] We will ensure UK businesses can take advantage of them by promoting the preferential terms, considering where we can simplify processes, and monitoring uptake. We will also continue our engagement with these countries once the deals have been done to secure the benefits for UK business. We will monitor and enhance the agreements we have and resolve any issues. We will seek opportunities to review and upgrade our existing agreements, starting with our FTAs with Canada and Mexico, to further tailor them to the benefit of the UK.

Our work doesn’t just stop there – we are pursuing an ambitious programme of new trade agreements, including in the fastest growing Indo-Pacific region. By the end of 2022, we aim for 80% of UK trade to be covered by existing and new trade agreements, giving more UK businesses access to preferential trading terms. We will negotiate new deals and build relationships with our trading partners to break down barriers to trade and support growth, jobs, and wages, with a particular focus on helping SMEs.

We have already reached Agreement in Principle on trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, and we are continuing to work towards a future full free trade agreement with the US. We have consulted on and are currently preparing for trade negotiations with India and hope to commence these before the end of the year. We have also launched a public consultation to help inform our approach for starting negotiations on a trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council in the future.

The UK is on the pathway to membership of the CPTPP – one of the largest free trade areas in the world. CPTPP spans Asia Pacific and the Americas and includes some of the world’s biggest current and future economies which collectively represented 13% of global GDP in 2020.[footnote 14] Accession could see 99.9% of UK exports being eligible for tariff-free trade with CPTPP members – including on whisky and cars – goods which are in high demand in the Pacific region. With CPTPP countries projected to account for 25% of global import demand for meat products by the end of the decade,[footnote 15] this could for example mean more British beef and lamb to Vietnam and Mexico.

Our trade agreements with developing countries (economic partnership agreements) and our new improved trade preference scheme are under design. The Developing Countries Trading Scheme will help developing countries access UK markets, grow their economies and reduce poverty while also enabling British businesses and exporters to have access to a wider range of imports at lower prices.

We have also replaced the EU’s Common External Tariff with the UK Global Tariff (UKGT), which is tailored to the needs of the UK economy, and scraps red tape and unnecessary barriers to trade.

Our preferential trade agreements and UKGT are designed to improve access for UK business to a greater range of intermediate inputs and final products. This increased access to imports and integration into global supply chains supports businesses to export competitively.

In parallel with our trade agreements, we will continue to resolve specific market access barriers identified by UK businesses wherever they arise, so that they can trade and invest more freely. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that for most economies, the costs associated with non-tariff barriers are between double and ten times those associated with tariffs.[footnote 16] Government analysis of a set of OECD studies suggests that substantial liberalisation of market access barriers by just the G20 countries could boost UK exports by around £75 billion per year.[footnote 17]

To unlock this potential, we work in close partnership with business to identify market access barriers, and, once resolved, to raise awareness of these new openings around the world. The ESS will only make this easier for businesses from across the UK to benefit from this whole of government effort led by DIT. This work is particularly important in helping businesses reach emerging markets, where barriers are usually more common and harder to overcome without specific intervention.

Finally, we will work globally with partner countries to champion free and fair trade under rules fit for the 21st century. Safeguarding and championing the multilateral framework is crucial to our exporting success as it creates a global environment where businesses are treated fairly and can compete on merit. We will work multilaterally to strengthen the international trading system and reform the World Trade Organization (WTO) to update the global trading rules in support of free and fair trade. We will continue further liberalisation, promoting openness and co-operation in the face of collective challenges, including through our G7 Presidency.

Our vision for sectors

Our trading potential is core to our vision of an open, dynamic and productive economy, particularly in sectors where UK firms are leading the world: tech, clean economy, digital and creative. We will provide sector-specific support to innovative, high growth companies to expand internationally. The Export Strategy will augment our Innovation Strategy to propel our sectors into priority markets across the globe. By doing so we will not only be successful commercially but demonstrate our position as a science superpower.

Whether it’s harnessing the UK’s strengths in manufacturing, and supporting UK goods to reach buyers across the globe, or easing and enhancing services trade – the Export Strategy delivers for exporters of all kinds.

We will partner with industry to increase UK supply chain competitiveness through supplier development and increased opportunities for UK suppliers to bid for work in these major supply chains. This will increase UK prosperity, creating jobs and opportunities across the UK.


Services contribute to around 80% of UK GDP each year,[footnote 18] and accounted for 49% of exports in 2020.[footnote 19] The UK has particular strengths in digital services, including financial, creative and media, education and training, telecoms, professional and consultancy services. We will improve access to new markets, promote services trade through campaigns, and support the launch of a new Trade in Services Council (TISC) with business.


Travel services was the UK’s third largest services export sector in 2019, driven by £28 billion in direct visitor spend, making the UK the fifth most valuable destination worldwide in terms of inbound visitor spend.[footnote 20] Pre-pandemic, tourism directly contributed £74 billion to the economy, directly supporting over 1.7 million jobs, increasing to over 4 million including the wider supply chain.[footnote 21] The Tourism Recovery Plan sets out a comprehensive framework for rebuilding the sector and building back better.

Case study: Luminance
The UK-Australia FTA includes ambitious commitments to increase opportunities for digital trade, reduce regulatory obstacles and increase transparency.

This is an exciting development for UK Lawtech businesses such as Luminance, a firm which uses artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning techniques to read and form an understanding of legal documents. Lawtech activity in Australia is significant, and, in 2020, Luminance saw a 60% increase in the uptake of its technology firms based in the Asia Pacific region. Luminance is confident that the Australia FTA will bring strategic opportunities for Lawtech companies in the UK, ensuring it is the most attractive market to do business with.


Creative sector
British talent is renowned worldwide, and demand will continue to grow. Whether in television, film, music, design or gaming, the UK is world-leading in this growing sector. The government’s partnership with industry, including the British Fashion Council and British Phonographic Industry, will showcase the Best of British across all creative sectors on the world stage, opening new markets and opportunities for exporters to thrive in.

Financial, professional and business services

The UK was the world’s second largest net exporter of financial services,[footnote 22] exporting £62 billion in 2020[footnote 23] and is a global leader in fintech making up around 10% of the global market.[footnote 24] Professional and business services exports have risen dramatically from £48 billion in 2016 to £63 billion in 2019.[footnote 25] We will work with sector partners and trade bodies to encourage more financial and professional services firms to trade and grow internationally. We will also help those who already trade to grow business in new overseas growth markets.

Digital commerce and ecommerce

Digital commerce and ecommerce are transforming the global economic landscape and the way transactions are made internationally. We support a wide range of UK service-based businesses in their ambitions to internationalise digitally so they can take advantage of growth opportunities and meet competition in an increasingly digital world.


The agriculture, food and drink sector, including the UK’s largest manufacturing industry, contributes £127 billion to the UK economy in 2019 and supporting around 4 million jobs.[footnote 26] We will combat the barriers faced by our exporters, building on the success of securing beef exports to the United States, and we will support firms to adjust to new markets and compete worldwide.

Defence and security

Ensuring UK companies have effective market intelligence and can match our competitors will be crucial to internationalising the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy. We will project SMEs across the defence and security sectors globally, using our unique network of defence and security relationships around the world, and enabling the UK to remain at the forefront of defence innovation in both sectors. We will also support the growth of the UK’s cyber security ecosystem through exports.

Maritime and shipbuilding

With a proud history as a maritime nation, we will capitalise on the maritime sector to capture a significant global market share. We will also promote important technologies to improve the environmental performance of the global maritime fleet. We will generate an innovative and internationally competitive UK maritime offer, leveraging major UK strengths such as defence and low carbon technologies. The National Shipbuilding Office and future DIT export and investment initiatives will galvanise and promote the UK’s shipbuilding enterprise. This will help us become a world leader in new areas such as the green maritime sector.

Clean growth

Over the past 30 years, the UK has been at the forefront of the transition to green and will continue to be so with our Net Zero and Jet Zero ambitions. Whilst the opportunity for the UK is unprecedented, it is by no means guaranteed. The low-carbon economy has the potential to create £60 to 170 billion of export sales between 2015 and 2030.[footnote 27] We will capitalise on this opportunity by building export capability at home and opening markets abroad. Our new trade agreements and our multilateral trade policy will also reflect this ambition by seeking to open up new opportunities for low-carbon exports.


The UK civil aerospace sector is a world leader in the design, manufacture and support of wings, engines, advanced systems and components for civil passenger aircraft. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK aerospace sector (defence and civil) had an annual turnover of around £33 billion, with over 90% of products exported.[footnote 28] Our priority markets for promoting exports and securing investment are the US, Canada, Brazil and Europe. We will continue to focus our efforts here with major players such as Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, GE, Raytheon Technologies and Safran.

Case study: Boeing Prosperity Partnership
2021 marks the 5-year anniversary of the long-term partnering initiative for UK growth and prosperity between Boeing and the UK government across the aerospace, defence and space sectors. The programme has been designed to increase UK exports to the US, increase volume of UK content on Boeing programmes and promote Boeing investment into the UK.

The partnership has delivered significant achievements, including £11 billion supply chain spend with 300 suppliers, 500 supplier teams attending Boeing industry events and UK suppliers being selected for new Boeing programmes. It has also enabled £200 million investment in new infrastructure projects, including Boeing’s first European manufacturing facility in Sheffield, and an 8-fold increase in R&D collaborations with SMEs.


The UK’s space sector is already a strong exporter, with £5.8 billion of its £16.4 billion income generated through exports (year 2018 to 2019).[footnote 29] The UK seeks to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world. We will continue to develop new and innovative partnerships, like Space Bridges, with priority markets in North America, Europe, the Gulf, and Indo-Pacific.


The UK has one of Europe’s most competitive car-making industries. Around 80% of the UK’s finished vehicles are exported to 150 markets and the sector generated £30 billion in exports in 2020.[footnote 30] Successfully transitioning to making zero-emission vehicles is critical to the future prosperity of the UK automotive sector. We will continue to support the automotive decarbonisation agenda through export orientated FDI to build resilience and competitiveness among UK manufacturers.


The UK is recognised as a world leader in high quality education and skills. In 2018, education exports and transnational education activity contributed £23.3 billion to the UK economy.[footnote 31] The UK government’s International Education Strategy sets clear ambitions to achieve £35 billion in education exports per year and to sustainably recruit over 600,000 international students studying in the UK per year, both by 2030. Alongside the UK’s International Education Champion, Professor Sir Steve Smith, we will continue to deepen partnerships, promote export opportunities and address market barriers.


Modern, high-quality infrastructure is essential for economic development, a healthy environment and people’s quality of life. UK companies are amongst the best in the world in developing and delivering infrastructure as demonstrated through high-profile megaprojects, including Crossrail, London 2012 Olympics, Heathrow Terminal 5 and High Speed 1 (HS1). Our Infrastructure Exports:UK initiative brings together government and industry to form a ‘Team UK’ approach to opportunities, prioritising markets where infrastructure pipelines complement UK strengths.

Case study: Tel Aviv Metro
Since September 2020, Crossrail International (CI) has been providing strategic advisory and consultancy services to Israeli Government agency, NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System. NTA is responsible for the delivery of the Tel Aviv Metro, a £33 billion, three-line underground network for the Tel Aviv metropolis.

CI is also leading the development of UK-Israeli relations in the infrastructure sector, opening doors for other UK suppliers to enter the market. In association with the British Embassy, CI hosted a client forum onboard HMS Richmond, part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, at Haifa port.

Life sciences, healthcare and chemicals

Life sciences, including elements of healthcare and chemicals, is a diverse sector which also includes a large SME base, and one of the UK’s top exporters. Exports of medicines and pharmaceuticals alone was valued at £21 billion in 2020, 6.9% of total exports.[footnote 32] This is second only to exports of cars.[footnote 33] The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of the life sciences sector in achieving global economic recovery. The UK has potential for high growth in exports of both goods and services in this sector, including solutions to ease the global burden of chronic diseases and achieve healthier longevity. These play into the UK’s strengths as a science superpower and will drive a digital revolution in life sciences R&D and healthcare delivery.


The digital and technology sectors are a major strength of the UK. We are the leading European nation for building emerging tech businesses. In 2019, the value of services exported by the digital sector was £51.9 billion, and £17.4 billion of goods. [footnote 34] The continued growth of the sector relies on success in international markets. We will continue to provide a range of activities to support this sector, such as our Technology Growth Programme, which provides market understanding for entrepreneurs. Engaging with colleagues around the globe, we will ensure UK technology and digital companies are accessing the right opportunities at the right stage of their development.

Case study: the exporting potential of venture capital backed firms
To support the UK’s agenda as a science superpower, in summer 2021 DIT piloted a programme to align DIT export support with a cohort of innovative UK companies which had received venture capital investment. Working with both investors and their portfolio companies, DIT identified, engaged and has begun to support these companies to access market opportunities in the USA, Australia and India. Companies on the programme had access to DIT resources via a dedicated account manager.

The pilot engaged over 200 businesses and investors and is planned for expansion in 2022. The next phase of work will expand the criteria for support to include those companies receiving substantial innovation grants, patents and strategic sectors.

Our vision for markets

We will put the UK at the centre of a network of modern deals spanning the Americas and Pacific. In doing so, we will connect Global Britain to the markets of tomorrow, strengthen our bonds with our closest partners, including Commonwealth countries, and build UK exports in developing markets. We will continue to deepen our trading relationships with some of our closest allies, including the United States and the European Union. These markets are ready to trade, and we will continue to promote exporters across them.

Rapidly growing emerging markets offer new opportunities for UK trade over the next decade. To put the UK at the centre of future global growth, the majority of which is outside the EU, we must look to markets of the future. Almost 90% of world growth is expected to be outside the EU over the next 5 years.[footnote 35] The future of the global economy lies to the east in the Indo-Pacific. By 2030, 65% of the world’s 5.4 billion middle class consumers are expected to be in Asia.[footnote 36]

Our existing trade partners are important to us. We will continue to strengthen the support we offer exporters to these countries and regions.

We can use trade as an engine of economic transformation that allows developing countries to reduce poverty sustainably and exit from aid dependency. Our ODA programmes help build the capability of countries to engage in trade and investment, meet global standards and improve economic governance. They also help to build more competitive and inclusive markets, deliver better and cleaner infrastructure, overcome non-tariff barriers, empower women and tackle economic exclusion. We will complement this with a new focus on supporting exporters bidding for government contracts through G2G activity and support to help UK businesses capitalise on export opportunities flowing from ODA programmes. We will set out our wider approach through the new International Development Strategy.

Case study: Growth Gateway
Led by the FCDO and DIT, the Growth Gateway is a business support service that provides dedicated, specialist advice and technical support to promote trade and investment between UK and African businesses. Through a digital portal on GOV.UK, it will connect businesses with the wide range of UK government advice and financial support available, as well as providing in-person support and market information to businesses in the UK and Africa.

Modernising trade

Our Export Strategy and 12-point plan reflects our aspiration to be a major trading nation, prosperous through trade and investment and influential as a proponent of free trade, open markets and the rules-based international system.

Our trading aspirations are underpinned by our values and as we Build Back Better, we must do so in a way that showcases the values of Global Britain. We take pride in our values, which align to exporting best practices and which we will uphold and reflect in our trade agreements. Our independent trade policy will help ensure protections for UK consumers and workers are upheld, building on our existing international obligations. We will not compromise our commitments to protecting the environment and tackling climate change.


We are committed to safeguarding the environment. Between 1990 and 2019, the UK has reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 44% while growing the economy by 76%.[footnote 37] Trade growth and emissions reduction are not alternatives. The green transformation is critical to the growth of the new green economy that will sustain and rebuild communities through new jobs and improved quality of life.

Our aim is to help foster high-value jobs in the low-carbon economy, propelling sustainable growth in all parts of the UK, and fuelling technological innovations that can be exported to the world. At COP26, we demonstrated our ambition to proactively work towards the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Our new trade agreements and our multilateral trade policy will also reflect this ambition by seeking to open up new opportunities for low-carbon exports.

Complementing these efforts, UKEF has committed to net zero emissions across its portfolio and operations by 2050, and is enhancing its green finance product offering. Alongside an enhanced EDG that will allow for longer-term financing for clean growth sector exporters, the Transition EDG will support companies investing in their transition to low-carbon business. Finally, a new, dedicated Renewables and Transition underwriting team is already offering specialist support and financing for customers looking to build their export business in the green economy.

Case study: UKEF backs £430 million green transition loan for Wood Plc
In August 2021, UKEF announced the first ever government-backed green transition loan. It was awarded to the engineering and consultancy firm Wood to seize new clean growth export opportunities. A £430 million commercial loan will be supported by an 80% UKEF Transition EDG. This loan will give Wood the financial resources to enhance its clean growth plans, capitalise on green opportunities and support jobs.


We are committed to championing equality and promoting opportunity for all. Our success will only be realised if the benefits of exporting are felt by business and the public across the whole of the UK. We will continue to ensure our trade supports environments which respect workers’ rights, and will work with our trading partners to uphold labour standards.

The G7 – under the UK’s Presidency – has looked at forced labour in a trade context for the first time. As a result, G7 Trade Ministers are identifying areas for strengthened co-operation and collective efforts towards eradicating the use of all forms of forced labour in global supply chains.

The government is committed to promoting women’s economic empowerment. We will build on our prior work to harness the potential for trade to support greater participation by women and under-represented groups, including disabled people, in the economy.

This will be underpinned by improving our data on diversity and inclusion in international trade. We will support initiatives and listen to what our stakeholders have to say so that we can ensure equality of opportunity across the UK.

Black, Asian and other ethnic minority owned businesses
We understand the importance of equal access to opportunities for businesses.

According to data from a recent study ‘Alone together: Entrepreneurship and diversity in the UK’ by the British Business Bank and Oliver Wyman, there are persistent disparities in outcomes for Black, Asian and other minority-owned businesses.

The findings include:

over one third of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority female business owners report making no profit last year, versus 15% of White female business owners

49% of Black entrepreneurs say they met their non-financial aims versus 53% of Asian and other ethnic minority entrepreneurs and 69% of White entrepreneurs

We are committed to understanding and addressing the barriers faced by Black, Asian and other ethnic minority business owners, and providing the resources available to support these businesses with their exporting efforts.


We are committed to upholding rules based trade. The UK has been consistently clear that we will negotiate agreements that address the trade-distorting effects of corruption on global trade and fair competition.

We are positively considering how trade policy can complement our already strong anti-corruption measures and the ambitions set out in the government’s 2017 to 2022 Anti-Corruption Strategy. We continue to be actively involved in the influential OECD Working Group on Bribery, the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group and other multilateral institutions supporting their work on anti-corruption policy and principles. UKEF routinely undertakes rigorous due diligence, including checks against financial crime (bribery, corruption, fraud and money laundering) and safeguarding taxpayers’ funds.

Implementing the strategy

We will implement this Export Strategy in partnership with industry and our regional and sectoral trade associations, through the ecosystem of export facilitation, advisory and finance services.

Our action-focused plan will underpin our ambitions for businesses and the country as we continually improve our service offer, providing:

· Better Support – transforming our service offering to exporters, being more joined up and more digital to reach SMEs at scale

· Better Access to Finance – ensuring no viable export fails due to lack of finance or insurance

· A Better Business Environment – making it easier to export and raising the competitiveness of all UK exporters

· Better Data – harnessing new technologies and legal powers to target support, inform policy and identify export opportunities

We will begin establishing the governance needed to effectively implement the Export Strategy across government. We will employ existing HMG governance established to monitor implementation progress and seek to further ensure that international trade is considered in domestic policy making.

We will work through our regular engagement fora with business to discuss the implementation of the strategy, identify barriers to delivery and develop innovative policy interventions for exports. We will take on your feedback to iteratively develop the strategy and implement it. We will work together to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of our interventions.

We will also support the creation of a Trade in Services Council, run in partnership with industry, to draw together the wide range of representative organisations and companies from across the sector. The Trade in Services Council will run for 2 years, and will establish a common voice, shared ambition and create a greater impact for the future of service trade.

We will implement the strategy through trade plans, which will be delivered with DIT teams in all parts of the UK and the government’s overseas network to achieve the Export Strategy’s priorities. We will ensure that this strategy joins up with ongoing work across all parts of the UK and the trade plans of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Since 2017, DIT has developed a new monitoring and evaluation framework for its export promotion activities. This includes annual client surveys to track user experience and satisfaction, bespoke evaluations and a value-for-money model for DIT services. The framework has been carefully scrutinised by the National Audit Office, uses the latest appraisal and evaluation techniques, and has steadily improved the evidence on the influence of export promotion support.

DIT’s priority outcomes and metrics

We will deliver, monitor and evaluate the strategy against the metrics as set out in the government’s Outcome Delivery Plans.

Priority outcome: secure world-class free trade agreements and reduce market access barriers, ensuring that consumers and businesses can benefit from both
[footnote 38]
The performance metrics are:

UK trade with countries with which the UK has concluded a free trade agreement (FTA), as a percentage of total UK trade
predicted GDP impact of each concluded FTA as per published impact assessment, including by UK nation and region
reduction in tariff barriers for each concluded FTA, as per published impact assessment (per cent)
cost reductions related to non-tariff measures (NTMs) for goods and services for each concluded FTA, as per published impact assessment (per cent)[footnote 39]
number of market access barriers reported and resolved on the Digital Market Access Service

Priority outcome: support UK business to take full advantage of trade opportunities, including those arising from delivering FTAs, facilitating UK exports
The performance metrics are:

value of exports supported (£)
export client survey satisfaction rates and number of service deliveries
total value of UK exports, including by UK nation and region (£)
UK outward foreign direct investment stock (£)
utilisation rate of trade preferences for tariff reductions (per cent)
survey estimates of the barriers faced by UK businesses to exporting, and the extent to which government services alleviated these barriers

Better data will underpin our implementation

The improved creation, adoption and utilisation of data is critical to our iterative approach to services in this strategy. Data sharing legislation within the new Trade Act will allow us to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of our Export Strategy interventions and improve our understanding of the exporter landscape.

Becoming more data-driven will ensure we shift from a demand-led model to a proactive one. We will use better data to identify areas of the UK that need government support, internationalise the government’s priority sectors and determine the markets of tomorrow.

While this is the central government approach, we recognise and support individual trade strategies from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will complement this approach with more bespoke account management.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The United Nations declared 2020-2030, a ‘Decade of Action’ and called ‘for the accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges’. We are answering this call.

Their global goals or ‘SDGs’ provide a framework to ensure we enable sustainable and positive impacts. The UK’s actions across these goals are co-ordinated through departmental planning, and updates are published on GOV.UK. DIT’s activity includes our Outcome Delivery Plan, through which the Department is actively engaged on Sustainable Development Goals 8, 9 and 10. This means increasing economic growth across the world through striking FTAs; reducing market access barriers; and encouraging exports and investment.

Source: Global trade outlook – September 2021 report – Department for International Trade↩

Source: Global trade outlook – September 2021 report – Department for International Trade↩

Source: Global trade outlook – September 2021 report – Department for International Trade↩

Sources: IMF World Economic Outlook April 2021 and DIT Calculations. Notes: Figures show the contribution of different regions to global GDP growth in real terms (expressed in constant 2019 prices and exchange rates). The Indo Pacific region is defined as 3 DIT HM Trade Commissioner regions: South Asia, Asia Pacific, and China & Hong Kong. ‘Rest of World’ includes the UK, non-EU Europe, Eastern Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, Middle East, and Africa.↩

Sources:IMF World Economic Outlook April 2021, UN World Populations Prospects (2019), UN World Inequality Database, World Bank World Development Indicators and DIT Calculations. Notes: Figures are calculated by applying current income distributions within each country to projections for nominal GDP per capita and population. Income thresholds are extrapolated forward from the World Bank’s income thresholds in 2019 and are increased by 2.3% each year. In 2019, the thresholds were: high income = $12,535+; upper middle incomes = $4,045 – $12,535; lower middle income = $1,035 – $4045; and low income = $0 – $1,035. ‘Very high’ income is not a World Bank category but is defined as having income greater than $40,000 in 2019, broadly in line with UK per capita income.↩

Source: Global trade outlook – September 2021 report – Department for International Trade↩

Source: Global trade outlook – September 2021 report – Department for International Trade↩

Source IMF World Economic Outlook April 2021, UNCTAD Oxford Economics and DIT calculations. Notes: Data are for nominal GDP in US dollars at time-varying market exchange rates. NIE means ‘Not Included Elsewhere’.↩

Source: Global trade outlook – September 2021 report – Department for International Trade↩

Source: DIT National Survey of Registered Businesses’ Exporting Behaviours, Attitudes and Needs, 2020. Notes: the primary focus of the NSRB is on businesses with an annual turnover of £500,000 or more and as such will capture some large businesses within its sample.↩

Source: SME Finance Monitor, BVA BDRC & UK Finance, August 2021↩

Notes: The UK-EU figure, which forms part of the UK bilateral trade figure, includes trade with the EU27 plus Andorra, San Marino, EU overseas territories and UK crown dependencies↩

Source: ONS UK trade, all countries, non-seasonally adjusted, Q2 2021. Notes: UK trade with secured partners was worth £917bn in 2019. Statistics on UK trade during 2020 suggest evidence of COVID-19-related impacts though these cannot be separately identified.↩

Source: IMF World Economic Outlook October 2021↩

Source: UK Accession to CPTPP: The UK’s Strategic Approach, 2021 Notes: Calculations by volume of lamb, beef, poultry and pig meat from the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2020-2029. Dataset includes all CPTPP countries except Singapore and Brunei.↩

Source: OECD, Trade Policy and the Global Economy Scenario 3: Reducing Unnecessary Cost of Non-Tariff Measures, February 2019↩

Source: Findings from OECD 2019, Trade Policy and the Global Economy applied to 2017 UK trade data.↩

Source: ONS GDP output approach – quarterly national accounts↩

Source: ONS UK Trade August 2021↩

Source: ONS Travel Trends, 2019↩

Source: ONS UK Tourism Satellite Account↩

Source: UNCTAD Services (BPM6): Exports and imports by service category and by trade-partner, 2020↩

Source: ONS: Balance of Payments, April to June 2021↩

Source: Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, GOV.UK↩

Source: ONS trade in services by industry, country and service type, 2019↩

Source: Defra Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2020↩

Source: Ricardo Energy and Environment for the Committee on Climate Change (2017) UK business opportunities of moving to a low-carbon economy (supporting data tables)↩

Source: ADS group Facts and Figures 2020↩

Source: Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2020 Summary report for the UK Space Agency↩

Source: UK Automotive Trade Report, 2021↩

Source: UK revenue from education related exports and transnational education activity, 2018↩

Source: ONS UK Trade August 2021↩

Source: ONS UK Trade August 2021↩

Source: DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2019: Trade↩

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook, October 2021↩

Source: The unprecedented expansion of the global middle class 2017 – Brookings Institution↩

Sources: Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics: 1990 to 2019 and GDP in chained volume measures – real-time database↩

Notes: This is a cross-cutting outcome. Contributing departments are BEIS, CO, DCMS, Defra, DfT, DHSC, FCDO, HMT and MoJ.↩

Notes: This is not considered a performance measure and is included for context only.↩