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Transport concerns hold back exporters, says Chamber

[ May 14, 2012   //   ]

Poor and expensive transport connections are one of the biggest barriers to exporting by UK firms, says a survey published by the  on 10 May. The survey of just over 8,000 businesses showed that while the proportion of active exporters had surged from 22% in 2011 to 32% in the first quarter of 2012, businesses across the country perceived the cost and quality of transport connections as a barrier among potential exporters.

Concern about the poor quality of international transport connections was highest among Scottish and Ulster businesses – 34% and 32% respectively compared with a national average of around 20%. At the same time, a quarter of UK businesses see local transport connections as a barrier to trade, rising to a third in Scotland.

Over 40% of UK businesses cited the cost, rather than the quality, of international transport as an export barrier with the greatest concern again seen in Scotland (48%).

The BCC called on the Government to produce a comprehensive aviation strategy for the country, free of politics and short-termism. This must address the question if alleviating the capacity shortage in south-east England.

It should also make a full commitment to the 2011 National Infrastructure Plan, including improvements to surface access for sea ports and alleviation of major pinch-points. Investment and use of rail and sea via UK regional ports should be incentivised and implementation of road tolling plans should be accelerated to fund new capacity.

Where ministerial decisions run counter to the Major Infrastructure Directorate’s official advice, ministers should be forced to make a statement to Parliament “explaining why they are taking a decision that could harm our economic well-being,” said the BCC.

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