EXPORT levels in the West Midlands grew in the first quarter of this year despite the pandemic and Brexit, according to a Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce economic report.
Twenty per cent of businesses surveyed reported an increase in international sales compared to 17 per cent the previous quarter.
However, at a time when UK firms were getting to grips with the new EU trading arrangements, the percentage of businesses expecting their international output to increase over the next three months fell from 19 per cent to 17 per cent.
This is particularly evident in the manufacturing sector with 33 per cent of firms surveyed expecting their export orders to fall over the next three months compared to 23 per cent the previous quarter.
On the other hand, service firms expect to see an increase in international sales from 11 per cent to 13 per cent this quarter.
In terms of UK sales, there was only a slight improvement overall in the number of firms reporting an increase at 32 per cent compared to 31 per cent in the previous quarter.
This is the highest figure recorded since the start of the pandemic and contrasts starkly with the 11 per cent recorded during the first national lockdown (Q2) last year.
However, there is again a discrepancy between manufacturing and services sector firms with the number of manufacturers reporting an increase in domestic sales falling from 45 per cent in Q4 2020 to 30 per cent in Q1 2021.