UK looks to data science to help grow exports

Out-Law News | 21 Aug 2018 | 4:02 pm | 2 min. read

The UK government wants to use data science to identify companies with potential to provide their services overseas as part of a new plan to grow the UK's export market.

The measure was outlined in a new export strategy published by the government on Tuesday.

"Government will explore how advanced data science techniques can be used, through cross-government collaboration, to identify businesses with the highest potential to export so that they can be approached with targeted support," the strategy said. "This will include analysis to understand the overlap between high export potential, high growth firms and scale-ups."

According to the new strategy, the government wants to raise exports as a percentage of the UK's gross domestic product (GDP) up from 30% that it is currently to 35%. No deadline has been set for the target to be reached. UK prime minister Theresa May described it as a "formidable challenge" that reflects the government's "desire for the UK to be at the forefront of global trade".

In its strategy paper, the government said: "This is a challenging ambition. It could be met if every existing exporting business exported 16% more. This will require government working in partnership with industry to establish the conditions for businesses to thrive. While there are a number of ways to set an ambition for exports, this approach more accurately reflects changes in the UK’s underlying export performance, is less affected by short-term economic fluctuations in the business cycle, and is not fixed to a specific time frame. This strategy is the first step on this journey."

The strategy paper details potential export opportunities for UK businesses linked to China's 'belt and road' initiative. This includes in the provision of project design, implementation and governance, finance and legal services, equipment, clean energy and innovative technologies, as well as construction and related services, needed to deliver the new infrastructure envisaged under the initiative, it said.

The government said there are also opportunities to grow the UK's exports to Gulf states in areas such as technology, cyber, life sciences, creative services, renewables and vocational training, in addition to services in oil and gas, aerospace, defence, and infrastructure which UK businesses are already strong in in the area.

To support growth in UK exports, the government outlined a raft of measures, including plans to use its own international networks to "‘convene’ and ‘connect’ UK businesses with international customers, new markets, and with each other".

The government said it intends to form new trade agreements with other countries and work in partnership with governments overseas in an effort to ensure UK businesses can effectively enforce their intellectual property rights in other markets. It also set out plans to improve UK business' access to trade and export finance and insurance.

"In UK Export Finance (UKEF), we have one of the most innovative and flexible export credit agencies in the world, and a suite of products and services to support UK exporters to ensure that no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance," the strategy said.

"We will raise awareness of how UKEF’s trade and export finance and insurance products can increase the global competitiveness of exporters, and bring together the UK supply chain and consortia around large UK exporters engaged in overseas opportunities. In addition, we will analyse the full range of UKEF’s statutory powers to identify where we can consider creating new products and enhancing existing ones." it said.