Research Report

An ecosystem enabling international trade

Posted: 24 Feb 2021

Resource Type: Research Report


80% Services now account for 80% of UK GDP and employ over 29 million people

The City of London: an ecosystem enabling international trade report, jointly published by The City of London Corporation and EY, demonstrates how the UK’s financial and professional services (FPS) ecosystem supports internationally exporting firms.

The UK is reshaping its economic relationships with key global markets and the UK Government is positioning international trade as a central pillar of the post-COVID-19 recovery. There is an opportunity to not only preserve the UK’s trading strengths but also look anew at how UK-based FPS can support firms across all sectors of the UK economy to trade internationally.

The UK’s international financial reach is unparalleled. The value of UK’s net financial services exports is considerably higher than in other global financial centres. But this is only part of the picture. Up and down the country, businesses large and small, and from all economic sectors are benefiting from the UK’s unique FPS offer to help them access international markets.

"While conducting our research, it became clear that the FPS ecosystem is brimming with ideas about how it can expand its support for UK firms to trade internationally. We encourage all players – government, professional bodies, FPS firms – to think creatively to support UK export success.” Sally Jones, Partner, Trade Strategy, EY

33.7% Services value-added content accounted for 33.7% of the value of UK manufacturing exports in 2015.

This analysis shines a light on the enabling roles played by three key sub-sectors of the complex FPS ecosystem: legal services, trade finance provision and maritime services.

The report concludes by setting out a series of practical policy recommendations which, if enacted, could be crucial in helping the UK realise the opportunities and rise to the challenges posed by the UK’s new and uncertain place in the global trade economy.

Above all, the UK should adopt a more holistic approach to policymaking and treat services trade and goods trade as interdependent and mutually supportive. The resulting benefits will include greater export volumes underpinning jobs and growth across the whole of the UK.

“In these uncertain times, we have an imperative to explore how the UK FPS can support globally trading firms still further.” Catherine McGuinness

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