The UK, like Germany and France, has some great brands which it can sell worldwide. It needs more of them, with more marketing success, to drive growth and eliminate the balance of payments deficit.
People tend to think of the traditional manufactured products. Rolls Royce engines represent a successful brand, based on pioneering technology and reminding people that the UK did so much of the early work on the jet engine. Land Rover is currently in a sweet spot, with ballooning sales of its cars across the catalogue, from the basic rough terrain Land Rover to the luxurious large Range Rovers.
The UK now exports lot of cars. They are mainly made by foreign companies who bring their capital here because they like the workforce, access to the UK market, and the UK engineering and design traditions. They often design here. In the case of BMW they have produced an updated and enlarged version of the iconic 1960s Mini. Bentley and Rolls Royce cars are also UK based with continental inputs, drawing on great UK engineering traditions and brands.
Less well known are the many pharmaceutical products which UK scientists have brought to fruition. UK defence contractors have a good export record.
The UK’s greatest success lies in its export of services. The UK has a strong balance of payments surplus in services, driven by substantial earnings from banking, insurance, investment management, legal services, and management consultancy. These are the areas the UK loves to hate, with frequent attacks on those engaged in such work. Some still believe these earnings are not “real”, or cannot create wealth. Some object to the fees, charges and incomes they generate.
It is one of paradoxes of the modern world. Germany earns a good living by exporting cars. She does not get herself into a moral knot by arguing that cars are anti greeen, damaging the planet and should be stopped. Nor does she worry that most of the cars she sells can only be bought by rich people because they are expensive. The UK earns a good living by exporting services, only to spend her time condemning some of the leading companies and people involved.