While the rest of the media is immersed in panic as B-day edges ever closer, I thought it would be nice to offer readers something a little more cheerful to digest. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Britain’s economic future after Brexit – it’s just that they don’t make the headlines!
- The UK is the world’s second-largest exporter of services
The UK punches well above its weight when it comes to services. In 2017, the UK exported almost $360 billion worth of services, second only to the US at $798 billion. This sets the UK economy in good stead for the future, as services exports are expected to grow faster than goods exports as a share of international trade.
There are many contributing factors to this, but they include the trend towards repatriation of manufacturing activities, and the growth of the internet which has helped to all but eliminate barriers of proximity. The English language is also a major asset in this regard, as it remains the language of international trade, and as such it conveys a distinct advantage for the UK’s thriving SME sector.
- The UK is one of the world’s most open economies
The UK remains a major destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), again ranking second only to the US in terms of the total FDI stock. In 2018, the UK was ranked number one on the Global Finance FDI Index, an algorithm that combines historical measures of FDI performance with forward-looking measures of FDI appeal.
- Downton Abbey, One Direction and Harry Potter
OK, so you may not be a fan of any of the above, but they are all major exports for the UK and their popularity is unlikely to be dinted by Brexit. In fact, the UK’s entertainment sector is one of the most dynamic and innovative in the world – it is second only to that of the United States in terms of global clout.
Just consider these amazing facts: Out of the seven artists that have sold more than a quarter of a billion records worldwide, four of those are British. Excluding the Bible and other religious books, only seven books have sold more than 100 million copies; five of those are from British authors. The hit TV show Downton Abbey is essential viewing in no fewer than 250 territories worldwide.
- Education, education, education
Although Britain can no longer claim to be the workshop of the world, it can justifiably claim to be the school of the world. The UK is the second most popular study destination for international students worldwide, not least due to the ancient pedigree of some of its universities. A British education is a highly sought-after commodity.
With this in mind, the UK is well placed to capitalise on the growth in the higher education market globally. Analysts at Technavio expect the higher education market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% during 2019-2023 as the sector becomes more internationalised.
- Technology is GREAT
Despite its lack of a Google or Amazon, the UK tech sector is alive and well. In fact, the UK technology sector is growing more than two-and-a-half times faster than the economy as a whole and London has been ranked as the second most connected place for tech in the world behind Silicon Valley in the US. British tech start-ups secured almost a quarter of all early-stage tech investment in Europe in the last three years, making it the clear leader for technology investment in Europe.
The UK remains the world’s leading net exporter of financial services, generating an industry trade surplus of £68 billion in 2017. That’s almost equal to the next three leading countries combined. When related professional services, such as legal, accounting and business advice, are added, the UK’s combined financial and related professional services trade surplus was around £83 billion.
- Reach for the sky – and the stars
The UK aerospace industry is the second largest in the world, behind that of the US. In 2017, total UK civil aerospace turnover was more than $46 billion, and the sector had a 17% global market share. Whilst the UK does not produce large civil aircraft, it has considerable expertise in the production of engines and other complex engineering equipment. An impressive 90% of domestic aerospace production is exported.
Less well known is Britain’s considerable expertise in the space sector. The sector is currently valued at around £14 billion to the UK economy, but year-on-year growth has been five times faster than the wider economy since 1999. Further growth is on the cards, with the government having unveiled a strategy aimed at doubling the value of space to wider industrial activities from £250 billion to £500 billion.