More UK exporters are reporting a decrease in orders in the opening quarter of the year, with cashflow and confidence dipping too according to the latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with DHL.

The report based on the responses of over 3,400 exporters shows that one in five manufacturers (23%) and service firms (20%) saw their export order books decline in the first three months of the year – the highest for both since Q2 2017 when records began.

Two-thirds of exporting manufacturers said exchange rates were of greater concern to them than in the previous three months, reflecting sterling volatility ahead of the original Brexit deadline. Exporters continue to report considerable price pressures, which for manufacturers is mainly driven by the cost of raw materials.

According to the findings, exporters are reporting muted confidence in turnover in the coming year. Nearly a quarter of exporters reported a decrease in cashflow, a key indicator of the financial health of a business – also at its highest level since Q2 2017.

The BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index, which measures the volume of trade documents issued by Accredited Chambers of Commerce for goods shipments outside the EU stood at 124.04, representing a fall of 1% on the quarter and 2.3% lower than the same quarter in 2018.

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