UK tech has long had global reach. But, through 2020, the world changed dramatically – pushing the country to think differently about connectivity, trade and digital commerce. Now all tech leaders need a truly international growth outlook.
In a recent technation report, the context in which international digital tech trade is taking place, countries best placed to trade with, and global tech competition are presented to get to grips with ways in which global tech opportunities can be unlocked.
The report finds that the UK was the 5th greatest digital tech services exporter in the world, at £23.3bn in 2019, sitting behind India, USA, China and Germany in the global rankings. This position is driven by a relatively high number (7,497) of high growth exporting tech companies in the UK, many of which are yet to realise their full exporting potential.
UK digital tech services currently export a much greater value of goods that they import, generating a significant trade surplus of 55% in 2019. This compares favorably to the average trade surplus among the top 57 countries globally, which is 48%. UK digital tech trade surplus has increased by 68% over the last four years – from £8.7bn in 2015 to £12.8bn in 2019 – now just behind the Insurance sector (£16.9bn) and Financial Services (£43.4bn).
The report also shows that the US was the biggest importer of global digital tech services in 2019, valued at £34bn, followed by Germany at £33bn and China at £21bn. India, Japan, and Brazil have seen the biggest growth in the level of tech services they import – by 29%, 24% and 17% respectively between 2018 and 2019.
The UK is a natural home for many scaling tech businesses, and there are a proportionally high number of scaling tech businesses located here that are already well-established in delivering domestic tech services. The UK is also third in the world for the number of UK tech unicorns, and number one in Europe. These factors support the conviction that UK founders, government and industry leaders should all be gearing up to double tech exports by 2025, in the aftermath of both the pandemic and Brexit. By doubling exports, UK tech could contribute an additional £23bn to the economy per year by 2025 and move up the ranks to become a top global exporter of tech.
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