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Tue January 18 2022

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UK flops in quest for Construction 2025 trade targets

7 Jul 20 The UK has spectacularly failed in its target to reduce the balance of trade deficit in building materials and components.

Seven years ago the Construction 2025 strategy document set a target of halving the UK’s balance of trade deficit in building materials and components. At that time, 2013, the UK exported £6bn-worth of building materials and components each year, and imported £12bn – a £6bn trade deficit in the sector.

Since then, exports have increased, reaching a new high of £7.7bn in 2019. But imports have increased more, reaching £17.8bn in 2019, according to latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

Since the publication of Construction 2025, therefore, (subtitled: Industrial strategy for construction – government and industry in partnership), the industry’s trade deficit has not halved but widened from £6bn to more than £10bn.

Most of the UK’s exports of building materials and components in 2019 were to EU countries. The EU accounted for £4.36bn of exports, compared to £3.37bn to the rest of the work.

Responsibility for implementing the Construction 2025 strategy was given to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), a panel of industry executives appointed by ministers under the aegis of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Implementing Construction 2025 was the raison d'etre of the CLC and halving the balance of trade was one of its primary targets, along with halving the time it takes to get projects from inception to completion, halving greenhouse gas emissions and a 33% reduction in construction costs (both initial and whole life).

Of these specific goals, only the emissions target currently seems achievable. And it might be interesting to know to what extent that is the result of CLC actions and to what extent it is the result of legislation emanating from Brussels.

Value of Overseas Trade in Selected Materials and Components for Constructional Use: All Building Materials & Components

(Source: ONS Construction building materials bulletin June 2020)

  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Imports 13,731,573 13,904,766 15,514,230 17,086,843 18,163,028 17,754,035
Exports 6,090,137 5,998,751 6,424,195 7,161,919 7,588,958 7,724,335
Balance (7,641,436) (7,906,015) (9,090,035) (9,924,924) (10,574,070) (10,029,700)

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