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Non-EU exports growing fastest in east of England

The east of England is the UK's fastest growing exporter to countries outside the European Union (EU). The total value of exports from the region reached £6.7 billion during the final three months of 2012, figures released by HMRC have revealed.

The 1.6 per cent increase on the previous quarter resulted in an annual export total of £26.7 billion. Non-EU exports now account for 43.8 per cent of the region's trade compared to 26.5 per cent in 2011 - a 16.4 per cent growth year-on-year.

In particular, exports to the recovering US market have grown by nearly a third (28 per cent) year-on-year. The USA now replaces Germany as the region's number one spot for exports.

Liz Basing, the region's director for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), said that east of England businesses were "doing brilliantly" outside of the EU and acknowledged that that there was long-term growth in those markets. But she was also quick to stress the continuing importance of the EU for UK exports.

Overall, the UK trade value increased for both imports and exports in January 2013, with exports rising by £1.5 billion and imports rising by £1.3 billion against December 2012. Although the figures are typical for the start of the year, they are lower than the levels seen in November 2012.

The news follows a House of Lords committee report that found many small- and medium-sized businesses are unaware of the state-backed export support schemes available to them.

The Government will be running a number of events around the UK promoting exporting to businesses during Export Week, which runs from 13-17 May.