UK tech exports up 68%, with 35% further growth by 2025

The UK ranks as the fifth greatest digital tech services exporter in the world, at £23.3 billion in 2019, sitting behind India, the USA, China and Germany in the global rankings.

This is according to Tech Nation's latest report, which explained that the UK's position is driven by a relatively high number (7,497) of high growth exporting tech companies in the UK, many of which are yet to realise their full exporting potential.

UK digital tech services currently export a much greater value of goods than they import, generating a trade surplus of 55 per cent in 2019. This compares favourably to the average trade surplus among the top 57 countries globally, which is 48 per cent.

The UK digital tech trade surplus has increased by 68 per cent over the last four years - from £8.7 billion in 2015 to £12.8 billion in 2019 - now just behind the insurance sector (£16.9 billion) and financial services (£43.4 billion).

The report also showed that the US was the biggest importer of global digital tech services in 2019, valued at £34 billion, followed by Germany at £33 billion and China at £21 billion. India, Japan, and Brazil have seen the biggest growth in the level of tech services they import - by 29 per cent, 24 per cent and 17 per cent respectively between 2018 and 2019.

According to projections by Oxford Economics in August, digital tech is currently on the path to boosting exports by an additional £8.15 billion, bringing total digital tech exports to £31.45 billion by 2025.

Tech Nation’s chief executive Gerard Grech noted that by doubling exports, UK tech could contribute an additional £23 billion to the economy per year by 2025 and move up the ranks to become a top global exporter of tech.

Looking at where global opportunities lie for UK digital tech service companies to boost exports, Tech Nation has created a Global Opportunities Index that ranks the top 25 countries in order of which are the most attractive countries to do business with.

The USA and the UK are first and second in the world respectively for digital tech trading opportunities - driven by UK online retail and e-commerce sales, which were valued at £688.4 billion - which also includes domestic sales. For UK tech companies, Singapore and Brazil are the fastest rising global opportunities for trade, climbing five and 17 places respectively in the country rankings for global tech opportunity between 2019 and 2020.

The rankings were determined by factors that contribute to the attractiveness of a location for doing business, with an emphasis on digital tech products and services. Variables such as infrastructure, access to talent and education levels, ease of doing business, regulation, language and consumers are weighted and aggregated to give a sense, for each country, of the opportunity for trade.

Exports minister Graham Stuart said: “Today technology plays a vital role in almost all sectors and its importance has only increased during the pandemic - so, it's unsurprising that the sector is and will continue to drive our economic recovery.

“The trade agreements that we are currently negotiating will create an exciting future, allowing businesses to export their goods and services across the world more easily."

Digital minister Caroline Dinenage added: "We are investing heavily in the nation's digital infrastructure as well as in people's digital skills which puts British firms in an unparalleled position to seize new, global opportunities on the horizon."

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