The West Midlands has out-paced the rest of the country by recording a 6.1 per cent rise in exports last year – driven by Jaguar Land Rover’s success in China.
HMRC export figures for the region for 2012 show goods exports rose to £21.4 billion, from £20.2 billion in 2011, while the UK-wide figure rose by only 0.25 per cent, to £296.2 billion.
Trade experts have welcomed the rise – which they say has been aided by JLR’s huge sales in China and digger-maker JCB’s successes in Latin America – and came despite a fall in exports to the major export partner, the European Union.
The improvement means the West Midlands now accounts for 9.9 per cent of England’s exports, up from 9.3 per cent a year ago.
However, Paul Noon, the West Midlands director for UK Trade and Investment, said the region is far from reaching its export potential, and wants to see goods exports rise to £40 billion a year by 2020.
He said: “The Far East and Latin America are among the areas where we can get exponential growth, but we are starting from a low position. Machinery and transport is where we have seen massive growth, some of that will be Jaguar Land Rover, and also JCB.”
He added: “We think we will see sustained growth in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. I also think we will start seeing some growth from the EU as well, and then we will be seeing some very significant growth, above six per cent.
“By 2020 I want to see that figure at £40 billion. We are going to double it, and that will mean growth will have to be above 10 per cent year-on-year. We are not there yet.”
The HMRC data – which does not include exports of services – shows that exports from the West Midlands to the European Union fell from £9.1 million to £8.9 million last year.
However, exports to Asia and Oceania rose from £3.9 billion to £4.9 billion and sales to th Middle East and North Africa rose from £1.1 billion to £1.3 billion.
The increase comes on the back of soaring machinery and transport sales – which include both JLR and JCB exports – which rose from £8.6 billion to £14.2 billion in the space of a year.
The data also shows the progress made by the region in exporting over the last four years. Since 2009, sales to Asia and Oceania, Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean have all increased by around 150 per cent.
Trade with Sub-Saharan Africa has also markedly increased, with imports more than doubling to £478 million and exports increasing by 61.8 per cent to £563 million.
Mr Noon said: “A lot of that is going to places like South Africa, whose economy is growing quickly and is western in type.
“There are also countries where their economies are stabilising, like Rwanda, Kenya and Angola. There are lots of opportunities in these areas because many are building an oil industry.”