The UK is set to be 15 years behind target in its efforts to increase the country's exports to a total of £1 trillion a year, new government figures have revealed, with difficulties caused by Brexit set to play a major role in this slow growth.
Forecasts from the Department for International Trade reveal that on current trends, it will be 2035 before this milestone is reached, with the total value of UK exports actually set to fall next year, from £739 billion last year to £707 billion.
The pledge to reach a value of £1 trillion was first made in 2012 by then-prime minister David Cameron, who set a deadline of 2020 for achieving the target. However, this was later revised to 2030 by Boris Johnson, and the new estimates indicate this too was overly optimistic.
In a statement to parliament, minister in charge of UK exports Andrew Bowie highlighted a range of external factors as partly responsible for this. He said: "The speed by which the UK reaches this milestone will be impacted by macroeconomic factors such as global demand and exchange rates. This has proven to be the case over the past year where we have experienced external shocks and a spike in inflation."
However, industry groups also pointed to additional red tape in the post-Brexit environment as another key barrier for UK exporters.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), for example, has noted that seven in ten British firms exporting to the EU have encountered problems since the UK left the bloc, with almost a quarter suspending exports altogether.
It called for changes to be made to the UK's trade policies in order to help stimulate exports, such as a new fund to support small exporters and changes to UK-EU trading terms. If implemented, this could still enable the government to reach the revised 2030 target of hitting £1 trillion in exports.