Optimism over post-Brexit trade despite warnings Norwich has high proportion of EU exports

Containers on a ship Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Containers on a ship Andrew Matthews/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Britain must get the best possible trade deal with the European Union, a think tank has warned as it published figures showing Norwich has one of the highest proportion of exports to the EU.

The Centre of Cities has warned in its annual report that British cities would have to dramatically increase trade with other international markets to compensate for a downturn in EU exports.

But Euro MP with a trade specialism David Campbell-Bannerman said there was no reason for pessimism with the government pushing for a good trade deal with the EU.

He also said there were some 'great opportunities' outside the European Union and Britain was already in talks with 12 countries.

He said a US deal which would give Britain access to state departments as well as insurance and financial services markets could benefit Norwich and Ipswich.

Julie Austin, international trade manager at the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said its international department was processing an average of 400 export documents per month for goods going outside the EU, with a goods value of over £7.6m.

'Norfolk businesses will be considering what emerging markets they can access as well as Europe.

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'It is easier than you think to export on a worldwide basis and many businesses are making Norfolk Chamber their first point of call to get expert advice and support.' The New Anglia local enterprise partnership said it had been gathering evidence from businesses which had not shown export markets to be a major concern.

'Many of the businesses we have spoken to have, however, cited general uncertainty following the Leave vote. However as it is only in recent weeks that trade deals have come to the forefront of national Brexit discussions, that may change and we will continue to gather evidence and support the needs of businesses across the East.'

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: 'While it's right to be ambitious about increasing exports to countries such as the US and China, the outcome of EU trade negotiations will have a much bigger impact on places and people up and down the country.'

'It's also important that the government aims to reach trade agreements covering as many sectors as possible, rather than prioritising deals for high-profile industries based in a small number of places. Broad trade agreements for all goods and services will help every city to build on its exporting strengths.'

Norwich's biggest sector for export is financial services.