Coalition victory: EU no longer the UK’s main export market

The coalition marked a significant victory today, after signs emerged the UK was exporting more outside the EU than inside.

The news, in a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), reflects the reduced demand in the eurozone area but also successful efforts to increase UK exports to growing markets in Asia and Latin America.

"A revolution in the orientation of British trade has taken place," the research centre said.

"With Europe mired in economic recession and other economies growing faster, exports are reorienting themselves again towards the fast growing emerging economies."

Compared with last year, the last three months saw exports to the EU down by 7.3%, while exports to non-EU countries rose by 13.2%, allowing non-EU exports to exceed EU exports by 1.3%.

While no comparable data exists, the group believes it is the first sustained period in which the trend has taken place since the 1970s.

Ministers have long yearned to break open Asian and Latin American markets rather than rely on the EU, given the increasing disparity between the two regions' economic performance.

The coalition put trade at the heart of the Foreign Office, as William Hague toured emerging markets trying to open export streams.

The change in exports patterns will be treated as a vindication of the coalition strategy and provide reassurance to eurosceptics, who will be able to argue that exit from the EU may not have a debilitating effect on the British economy.

A recent CEBR study for insurers the RSA found British trade to Asia is expected to rise by 30% in the next five years, while it will increase by 40% to Latin America and 60% to Africa.