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Study names the UK as Europe’s largest online exporter



Study names the UK as Europe’s largest online exporter
  • More overseas shoppers have bought from UK online businesses than any other European country
  • Department for International Trade calls the report ‘great news for Britain’
  • British companies urged to seize the opportunity and sell overseas to reap the rewards of a global marketplace
  • Case study available: UK start-up Castore has seen rapid growth in 2 years thanks to high international demand

More overseas shoppers are buying online from UK businesses than any other nation in Europe, with British goods in high demand among foreign shoppers, new research conducted by Ipsos for PayPal has revealed.

The global study found that 1 in 7 (14%) of global online shoppers have bought goods from the UK in the past 12 months.[i]

The next popular destination in Europe is Germany, with 1 in 10 (10%) global online shoppers buying from this country.

Europe’s top 5 online exporters are:

  1. UK
  2. Germany
  3. France
  4. Italy
  5. Netherlands

 Which nations are buying British?

The fourth-annual Global Cross-Border Commerce report, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of PayPal, interviewed 34,000 people across 31 countries and reveals the importance of American consumers to British businesses.

The US is the largest export market for UK online businesses. Shoppers from the US bought an estimated £12.5 billion worth of goods from the UK in the past 12 months – more than any previous year.

China has been identified as another key market for UK online businesses, buying an estimated £5.7 billion worth of products in the past 12 months.

The new research also reveals the importance of European markets to British exports, with cross-border shoppers in France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden all choosing the UK as one of the ‘top 3’ countries to buy from. 

Why are shoppers browsing abroad?

The main reason why shoppers buy from foreign countries is to seek a bargain, with 7 in 10 (72%) respondents who shop cross-border indicating that they buy from other countries because of cheaper prices.

The fall in the pound following the EU referendum, PayPal’s data suggests that this has made UK goods even more attractive.

Other reasons why consumers shop online internationally rather than in their own country include:

  • Because certain products are not available in their own country (49%)
  • To discover new and interesting products (34%)
  • Because product quality is higher from overseas (29%)
  • Because shipping costs are affordable (24%)

 What are global shoppers buying?

Globally, clothing is the most popular category for cross-border purchases, with 7 in 10 (68%) of online cross-border shoppers buying clothes from other countries in the past year. Other popular products include:

  • Consumer electronics (53%)
  • Toys and hobbies (53%)
  • Jewellery and watches (51%)
  • Cosmetics and beauty products (46%)

 How are people shopping?

The majority of online purchases are still made via desktop or laptop – but smartphone shopping is fast catching up.

Across Europe and the US, the proportion of smartphone purchases has almost doubled since 2016, with the UK’s top export markets of US and China frequently shopping on their mobiles.

In the US, 61% of cross-border shoppers have made an online purchase in the past 12 months via smartphone, whilst in China this figure is 84% – the highest of all markets surveyed.

Nicola Longfield, Director of Small Business at PayPal UK, said: “As growth in the UK economy remains modest, it’s time for all British businesses to open their doors to the international shopper.

“International shopping is increasing at a rapid pace, and this study highlights the small adjustments that businesses can make to capture more global sales. If you set a border around your business, you are simply putting a limit on your sales.

“Shoppers from Austria to Australia, Belgium to Brazil have all bought from UK online businesses in the past 12 months. With the UK punching above its weight and leading Europe when it comes to global ecommerce, we hope that other businesses are encouraged to sell their products online and overseas.”

PayPal has been helping to enable British businesses to sell overseas for 15 years in over 200 markets and 25 currencies.

Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for the Department for International Trade, said:

 “PayPal’s global study is great news for Britain – a clear sign of the strong demand for our goods and the success that UK retailers are already having online.

“To build on this achievement, the Department for International Trade is making it easier and cheaper for UK firms to sell online to customers around the world – with face-to face support from our eCommerce Advisers, negotiated preferred rates on online marketplaces and information via

“Our recently published Export Strategy sets out our ambition to grow exports as a percentage of GDP to 35%, and getting more UK firms to sell online is key to achieving this.” 

 Castore: a cross-border case study

Castore, a premium sportswear brand, was created in Liverpool by brothers Tom and Phil Beahon in 2016. Thanks to strong exports, the start-up has rapidly expanded over the past two years.

Castore has forecast that its sales will rise to £2.7m this year, up from £750,000 in 2017. More than half of its total sales in the past three months has come from North America and Asia. 

Tom Beahon, co-founder of Castore, said: “The speed and ease of online buying and selling has changed the retail game. It’s meant that UK start-ups have been able to quickly grow and thrive on a global scale.”

PayPal’s report suggests that the future is bright for UK companies, with 2 in 5 (42%) of global online shoppers saying that their spend would increase over the next 12 months. 

Barriers for consumers who shop online

A quarter of global cross-border shoppers (25%) cited shipping costs as the top barrier to buying from international websites; whilst half of online shoppers said that they would not feel comfortable buying from a foreign website in a different language (57%) or paying in foreign currency (47%).

To help UK online businesses tap into lucrative foreign markets, PayPal covers the cost of returning unwanted goods for international shoppers in more than 40 overseas markets including Australia, USA, France and Spain. Return Shipping on Us gives customers who pay with PayPal the option to receive a refund for the cost of return shipping to the UK on eligible purchases, with the value and frequency of claims varying per market. Limitations apply.

PayPal’s Global Sellers programme also allows UK businesses to translate, localise and launch their online web store in over 60 countries, making their products more attractive to international audiences.

If you are looking for specific insights by country, all of the data has been uploaded to the PayPal PassPort site.

[i]Source of all statistics included in this document unless otherwise indicated: PayPal Cross-Border Consumer Research 2018 conducted by Ipsos.


Exclusive: China’s Huawei, reeling from U.S. sanctions, plans foray into EVs – sources



Exclusive: China's Huawei, reeling from U.S. sanctions, plans foray into EVs - sources 1

By Julie Zhu and Yilei Sun

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Huawei plans to make electric vehicles under its own brand and could launch some models this year, four sources said, as the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, battered by U.S. sanctions, explores a strategic shift.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is in talks with state-owned Changan Automobile and other automakers to use their car plants to make its electric vehicles (EVs), according to two of the people familiar with the matter.

Huawei is also in discussions with Beijing-backed BAIC Group’s BluePark New Energy Technology to manufacture its EVs, said one of the two and a separate person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The plan heralds a potentially major shift in direction for Huawei after nearly two-years of U.S. sanctions that have cut its access to key supply chains, forcing it to sell a part of its smartphone business to keep the brand alive.

Huawei was placed on a trade blacklist by the Trump administration over national security concerns. Many industry executives see little chance that blocks on the sale of billions of dollars of U.S. technology and chips to the Chinese company, which has denied wrongdoing, will be reversed by his successor.

A Huawei spokesman denied the company plans to design EVs or produce Huawei branded vehicles.

“Huawei is not a car manufacturer. However through ICT (information and communications technology), we aim to be a digital car-oriented and new-added components provider, enabling car OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to build better vehicles.”

Huawei has started internally designing the EVs and approaching suppliers at home, with the aim of officially launching the project as early as this year, three of the sources said.

Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group who led the company to become one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, will shift his focus to EVs, said one source. The EVs will target a mass-market segment, another source said.

All the sources declined to be named as the discussions are private.

Chongqing-based Changan, which is making cars with Ford Motor Co, declined to comment. BAIC BluePark did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Shares of Changan’s main listed company Chongqing Changan Automobile rose 8% after Reuters reported the discussions. BluePark’s shares jumped by their maximum 10% daily limit.


Chinese technology firms have been stepping up their focus on EVs in the world’s biggest market for such vehicles, as Beijing heavily promotes greener vehicles as a means of reducing chronic air pollution.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including pure battery electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, are expected to make up 20% of China’s overall annual auto sales by 2025.

Industry forecasts put China’s NEV sales at 1.8 million units this year, up from about 1.3 million in 2020.

Huawei’s ambitious plans to make its own cars will see it join a raft of Asian tech companies that have made similar announcements in recent months, including Baidu Inc and Foxconn.

“The novel and complicated U.S. restrictions on semiconductors to Huawei have slowly been strangling the company,” said Dan Wang, a technology analyst with research firm Gavekal Dragonomics.

“So it makes sense that the company is pivoting to less chip-intensive industries in order to maintain operations.”

In the United States, Inc and Alphabet Inc are also developing auto-related technology or investing in smart-car startups.

Huawei has been developing a swathe of technologies for EVs for years including in-car software systems, sensors for automobiles and 5G communications hardware.

The company has also formed partnerships with automakers such as Daimler AG, General Motors Co and SAIC Motor to jointly develop smart auto technologies.

It has accelerated hiring of engineers for auto-related technologies since 2018.

Huawei was awarded at least four patents related to EVs this week, including methods for charging between electric vehicles and for checking battery health, according to official Chinese patent records.

Huawei’s push into the EV market is currently separate from a joint smart vehicle company it co-founded along with Changan and EV battery maker CATL in November, two of the sources said.

(Reporting by Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Yilei Sun in Beijing; additional reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Richard Pullin)

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Facebook switches news back on in Australia, signs content deals



Facebook switches news back on in Australia, signs content deals 2

By Renju Jose and Jonathan Barrett

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Facebook Inc ended a one-week blackout of Australian news on its popular social media site on Friday and announced preliminary commercial agreements with three small local publishers.

The moves reflected easing tensions between the U.S. company and the Australian government, a day after the country’s parliament passed a law forcing it and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay local media companies for using content on their platforms.

The new law makes Australia the first nation where a government arbitrator can set the price Facebook and Google pay domestic media to show their content if private negotiations fail. Canada and other countries have shown interest in replicating Australia’s reforms.

“Global tech giants, they are changing the world but we can’t let them run the world,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, adding that Big Tech must be accountable to sovereign governments.

Facebook, whose 8-day ban on Australian media captured global attention, said it had signed partnership agreements with Schwartz Media, Solstice Media and Private Media. The trio own a mix of publications, including weekly newspapers, online magazines and specialist periodicals.

Facebook did not disclose the financial details of the agreements, which will become effective within 60 days if a full deal is signed.

“These agreements will bring a new slate of premium journalism, including some previously paywalled content, to Facebook,” the social media company said in a statement.

The non-binding agreements allay some fears that small Australian publishers would be left out of revenue-sharing deals with Facebook and Google.

“It’s never been more important than it is now to have a plurality of voices in the Australian press,” said Schwartz Media Chief Executive Rebecca Costello.

Facebook on Tuesday struck a similar agreement with Seven West Media, which owns a free-to-air television network and the main metropolitian newspaper in the city of Perth.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp has said it was also in talks with Facebook.

Google Australia managing director Mel Silva said in a statement published on Friday the company had found a “constructive path to support journalism”.

She thanked Australian users of the search engine for “bearing with us while we’ve sent you messages about this issue”.

Facebook and Google threatened for months to pull core services from Australia if the media laws, which some industry players claim are more about propping up ailing local media, took effect.

While Google struck deals with several publishers including News Corp as the legislation made its way through parliament, Facebook took the more drastic step of blocking all news content in Australia.

That stance led to amendments to the laws, including giving the government the power to exempt Facebook or Google from mandatory arbitration, and Facebook on Friday began restoring the Australian news sites.

(Reporting by Renju Jose and Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Richard Pullin and Jane Wardell)


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China’s factory activity growth likely moderated during February holiday lull – Reuters poll



China's factory activity growth likely moderated during February holiday lull - Reuters poll 3

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s factory activity likely grew at a slightly slower rate in February as factories closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, a Reuters poll showed, although growth is expected to remain firm, buoyed by an early resumption of production.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) is expected to dip marginally to 51.1 in February from 51.3 in January, according to the median forecast of 20 economists polled by Reuters. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity on a monthly basis.

Chinese factories typically scale back operations or close for lengthy periods around the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in the middle of February this year.

However, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the winter had prompted local governments and companies to dissuade workers from travelling back to their hometowns, giving a boost to the earlier-than-usual resumption of production at many factories, analysts say.

“Although government COVID-19 prevention measures may constrain some manufacturing activities in the near-term, the fact that a majority of migrant workers stayed in their workplace cities for the holiday should facilitate an earlier resumption of business activity following the holiday this year,” said analysts at Nomura in a note to client on Thursday.

Wang Zhishen, a migrant worker from Gansu, told Reuters that his factory, a manufacturer of logistics boxes in the manufacturing hub of Dongguan, only closed for three days during the holiday, thanks to overwhelming businesses. Lured by the 1,500-yuan cash subsidy his factory offered, he chose to work through the holiday.

The Chinese economy has largely shaken off the gloom from the COVID-19 health crisis, with consumers opening up their wallets after months of hesitation. Growth is now set to rebound sharply this quarter, also helped by the low base effect of a year ago.

The country has successfully curbed the domestic transmission of the COVID-19 virus in northern China, with the national health authority reporting zero new local cases for the 11th straight day. Cities that were on lockdown have since vowed to push for a work resumption at full speed.

The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, and its sister survey on the services sector, will both be released on Sunday.

The private Caixin manufacturing PMI will be published on Monday. Analysts expect the headline reading will dip slightly to 51.4 from 51.5 in January.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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