Business as Unusual
Creative industries, international trade and Brexit
Keywords:Creative industries, design policy, international trade, Brexit, creative hubs
UK government statistics maintain that only 18 per cent of creative industries firms engage in international trade. The UK’s Industrial Strategy: Creative Industries Sector Deal aims to increase UK creative industry exports by 50% within 5 years, arguing there is a “great deal of untapped potential in the sector.” It also identifies small company size as a barrier to creative industry exports. Our research, however, challenges these assumptions. At least one creative industries hub is already deeply entwined in global trade. In Liverpool’s creative and digital hub Baltic Creative, 69 per cent of tenants export. Furthermore, these exporters are highly dependent on their overseas income. Over one-third of exporters earn more than 50 per cent of their annual income from exports. Our research also finds that small company size was not a deterrent to international trade. Rather company owners report concerns about access to global markets after Brexit, which had already resulted in significant financial losses for some. Our study reveals that even the smallest micro-enterprises are exporting not by way of strained or concerted efforts, but simply because they are operating in an open, digital, global environment where international trade is integral to their business.