Evaluating the impact of export promotion activities on firm outcomes

Evaluating the impact of export promotion activities on firm outcomes

Frontier’s study, commissioned by the Department for Business & Trade (DBT), provides insights into the potential benefits of export promotion initiatives for the UK economy. Additionally, our study highlights the importance of ongoing support for UK businesses looking to expand their export activities. 

Our report analysed the firm-level economic outcomes of DBT’s export promotion activities provided between 2014 and 2016, up to three years after the support was received. It builds on our previous report for DBT which found that further econometric analysis could strengthen the evidence base on the impact of export promotion activities.

The aim of DBT’s export promotion activities is to stimulate new firms to export, and encourage existing exporters to increase their export activities, ultimately enhancing the success and output of UK companies.  Some examples of export promotion activities include: 

  • Providing advice, information and support to firms looking to export through the Exporting is GREAT service;
  • Leveraging overseas networks to create opportunities for British exporters; and
  • Finding overseas buyers for UK firms which are looking to export.

Our analysis shows that export promotion services provided by DBT are linked with supported firms growing in employment, being more likely to export, and increasing the value of their exports and their turnover in percentage terms.  Smaller firms tend to benefit more from support compared to large firms, in percentage terms. These results are generally robust to changes in the specification of our econometric estimation strategy, but there is some variation across years and outcomes.

To conduct the analysis, the Frontier team constructed a novel dataset which linked: information from DBT on what firms had been supported; information from HMRC on firms’ exports of goods; and information from the Interdepartmental Business Register on firm characteristics, employment and turnover. The data was accessed in the HRMC Data Lab.

As more data becomes available it will be possible to explore more granular hypotheses, although difficulties posed by atypical economic shocks such as Covid-19 would need to be considered. 


Read the full study here


For more information, please contact media@frontier-economics.com or call +44 (0) 20 7031 7000.