We seek to understand the current position as regards the Export of Services and we need to identify what we need to do to grow that sector of the market. The answers lie in the detail. Here we summarise the detail – which we expand upon elsewhere in this Paper. In this way, we can create a platform for future action. In particular, help is available from BDO, The Institute of Export and International Trade and the Department of International Trade.


  • The exporting of services is different than exporting goods! We need to appreciate these critical differences. Services by and large are delivered by people; people sharing knowledge and expertise and often using technology in the process. Read about these critical differences.
  • Many professional firms see this as four clear models: “Best friends”/reciprocation;. Organic expansion; Exclusive partnering; Inorganic growth.
  • Service Delivery issues are very important. We see these in three main groups:- no 1: whose people?  no 2: is the expertise available in territory?  no 3: understanding cultural differences.
  • What are the early learnings from this current pandemic that we are all living though right now, and what can we expect to see for the UK services sector?
  • There is an obvious continued global demand for quality and consistency.
  • Equally obviously, there will be a continued demand for world-leading and globally relevant knowledge such as the much publicised AZ/Oxford University and Imperial College’s development of Covid vaccines.
  • We see a greater opportunity for UK SAAS businesses.
  • Increased degree of global mobility is going to be required.
  • Specifically, opportunities are envisaged for gaming, fintech, edtech etc.( Fintech in particular.)
  • Also important are the opportunities to package overseas service capability behind UK manufacturers.
  • Need to capitalise/ deliver on our digital and knowledge-based economy, a still meaningful manufacturing sector, our open society and culture, a stable and much copied judicial landscape, and the perfect ecosystem for innovation. Can any country match our talent pool of technology, data science and the knowledge of financial, professional and many other service offerings?
  • Collaboration is a key facilitator.

The Institute of Export and International Trade

  • Full recognition and terms of engagement are urgently needed for the transfer of professional skills and associated qualifications through the current Mutual Recognition Agreement negotiations. In many ways the UK list of Professional qualifications are the best in the world and offer huge scope for their use overseas.
  • There needs to be free and fair access to telecoms structures and IT protocols in overseas target markets and reliable protection of Intellectual Property.
  • There needs to be simplification around business travel. In particular, facilitating new forms of services which are being created around goods – mechanical and electronic – fly-in/ fly-out capability is essential to keep continuity of service.
  • Digital tax needs to made permanent at zero rate.
  • The roll-out of sector specialist Agreements needs to be accelerated on flexible and open-minded bases. In particular, the FCA’s roll out on principles- based frameworks will give the UK a unique trading position

The Department for International Trade

  • Services are the predominant driver of the UK economy, contributing 80% of GDP in 2019 and employing over 26 million people. As the second largest exporter of all services in the world, UK services exports increased by 6.8% to £328 billion in 2019.
  • Clearly, services is an area the UK is competitive, and there is more potential as DIT helps to open up new markets, removing barriers and supporting UK business to win overseas business. DIT have set up a service for UK business to report trade barriers https://www.great.gov.uk/report-trade-barrier
  • The UK will remain a strong supporter of services and support efforts to enhance international rules for trade in services at the WTO, providing stability and predictability.
  • In negotiating our new free trading relationships around the globe, DIT’s aim is to secure best-in-class rules for all services sectors

DIT have a network of trade advisors close to you across the UK, as well as teams in important market overseas who can provide further support to your services business. If you are a UK business looking for help in your export growth, visit www.great.gov.uk to contact your local team and access guidance and business opportunities from around the world in your sector.