Ministers will be taking heart today that they seem to be finally breaking into buoyant markets outside the European Union. Figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research show that for the first time the UK is exporting more to non-EU countries than it has been to its traditional main export market within Europe. Over the past three months, 51 per cent of British exports went outside the EU. Exports outside the EU have risen 13.2 per cent, while exports within the EU have fallen by 7.3 per cent. It is the first time since the 1970s, according to the CEBR, that non-EU exports have overtaken those inside the union.
All this suggests that the UK could be moving away from relying on the grief-stricken eurozone to more energetic markets in Asia and Latin America (although 49 per cent of our export trade remains within the EU). This is a victory for those including William Hague who have made it a priority to attract the attention of emerging markets. Ministers will also wish to point to the good fortune of Britain remaining outside the eurozone, as this degree of separation from the debt crisis is helping its trade with countries such as China.