Friday 16 July 2021 / 8:34 AM Emily Thornberry / Trade

Pandemic no excuse for Truss exports failure, says Labour

Figures slipped out in the Department for International Trade’s annual report on Thursday evening show that government-backed British exports crashed by almost a third last year.

The annual ‘export wins’ figure published by the DIT, which measures export deals supported by its network of UK and overseas staff, fell from £24.4 billion in 2019-20 to £16.9 billion in 2020-21.

The 30.7% decrease compares to a 17.8% fall in overall UK exports in 2020-21, so cannot be explained by the impact of the Covid pandemic alone.

Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, said:

“In last year’s annual report, Liz Truss boasted about her achievements in this area, saying ‘I am proud of the £24.4 billion in Export Wins my department recorded in 2019-20.’

“In this year’s report, slipped out without a press release last night, she has nothing to say about the catastrophic collapse she has presided over in government-backed export deals.

“At a time when we urgently need to buy, make and sell more British goods to drive our recovery from the pandemic, Liz Truss has shown she is just not up to the task.”



Notes to editors


  • Export Wins were first established as a performance measure by the newly-created DIT in 2016/17. The figures published in each year’s annual report since then are as follows:
    • 2017/18: £30.5bn, 4.92 per cent of the total exports reported by the DIT in that year;
    • 2018/19: £27.2bn (down 10.8%), 4.23 per cent of the DIT’s total exports figure;
    • 2019/20: £24.4bn (down 10.3%), 3.53 per cent of the DIT’s total exports figure; and
    • 2020/21: £16.9bn (down 30.7%), 3.02 per cent of the DIT’s total exports figure.
  • In the 2020-21 Report, the DIT defines an ‘export win’ as follows: “DIT records export deals, contracts, sales or agreements where there has been support provided by our export promotion operations as an Export Win…The metric is a departmental performance measure and does not capture exporting or investment activity on the same basis as measured in official statistics.”