While the Construction Management Board can take pride in achieving some of the goals set for it in the historic Build 2025 strategy paper, improving the lot of the UK building products industry is not one of them.
In 2013, when Build 2025 set a target of reducing the building materials balance trade deficit by 50% by 2025, the deficit stood at £6 billion.
In 2019, the deficit had not narrowed at all, but widened to £10.4bn.
Thanks to Covid, the deficit narrowed to £9.0bn in 2020 – but in 2021 it was higher than ever, reaching £13.2bn.
In 2021, the UK imported £20.5 billion worth of building materials and exported £7.3 billion worth.
In the first quarter of 2022, the UK imported £3.26 billion more in building products and materials than it exported. [Source here.]
Hardwood import volumes increased by 30% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, which was the highest Q1 import volume observed for this market in 21st century.
While the Construction Management Board is still expected to reduce the annual deficit to £3billion over the next three years, the CLC was set up specifically to implement the strategy set out in Build 2025 – he seems to hope that no one else pays too much attention to products and materials and instead highlights the UK’s longstanding success in exporting professional services.
Asked recently whether reducing the trade balance by 50% remains a target, a CLC spokesperson said: “CLC is working closely with the Department for International Trade to increase UK exports of goods and services , including digital technologies such as BIM. Successes include over £100m of BIM exports from the UK to Peru, as well as other service exports to countries around the world.