Exports from Wales rise above UK average

Image caption,
This Anglesey dairy firm exports frozen yoghurt to Europe - including Germany

The value of exports from Wales has increased by nearly a fifth over the last year, according to latest regional trade figures.

This 19% increase is also higher than the UK average rise of 16%, said HM Revenue and Customs.

Germany remains Wales' biggest market but there were big increases in exports to both France and the United States.

Imports into Wales also rose by 20% in the year to September, with the largest percentage rise coming from Norway.

All four UK countries saw an increase in the value of exports and imports.

Exports to Germany from Wales were worth £3.2bn over the past year, a rise of 8.3%.

Exports to France and the Netherlands both rose by more than a quarter.

It included a 17% rise in the machinery and transport sector.

Imports from the United States were worth £2.3bn, a rise of nearly 17%.

Analysis by Brian Meechan, BBC Wales business correspondent

The latest export figures are good news for Wales with a significant increase in exports to EU and non-EU countries.

Sales to the EU accounted for 59.8% of Welsh exports while it was 49.3% for the UK as whole so we are still more dependent on trade with the EU than the UK average.

The figure has dropped though from the previous year we have figures for, which was 67% of Welsh exports going to the EU.

Drawing comparisons over years can be difficult as there have been two recent changes in how exports are calculated.

Overall, in the context of the uncertainty over future trading relations with the EU after Brexit, improving sales to other parts of the world should give business some encouragement.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox infuriated businesses last month by claiming they were not putting enough effort into selling overseas.

These export figures show a very positive performance by Wales and the rest of the UK on exporting abroad.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates, who was on a visit to Qatar this week, said: "These latest statistics show that Welsh exports are continuing to perform strongly and that our business friendly approach is making a difference."

He said increasing the value of exports and the number of exporters in Wales was "more important than ever".

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the UK government would continue to support all Welsh businesses who were "eager to seek out new markets overseas".

He added: "In Wales we design, develop, manufacture and integrate some of the world's most advanced technologies essential to most other industry sectors.

"Our work underpins innovation and development across many different markets which is critical to our trade and investment success."

'Political dogma'

Meanwhile, industry organisation CBI Wales said Wales should be getting a "devolution dividend" but "somehow it's not coming together".

Chairman Mike Plaut will use his speech at Thursday's annual dinner to urge politicians from all parties to "work together to make devolution really work".

Image caption,
Mike Plaut said Wales needs to be attractive

He warns that "political dogma" has often got in the way of the decisions that need to be made.

"Let's have a debate. If we don't do anything we're going to become very poor," he added.

"Wales needs to be attractive. It needs to be a good place to come and we're doing lots but we could do a lot more.

"We do need to move forward in a business-friendly way so we can create jobs, create tax revenue, fund hospitals, fund schools, fund families. It is very serious."

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