The CBI has called on Britain to "completely reorient" its export strategy away from traditional customers in the US and Western Europe and towards emerging markets such as India and Brazil.
The employers' association said Britain stood to boost annual exports by as much as £20bn by 2020 if it could harness the potential to sell high-quality products to burgeoning middle class communities in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
The CBI is also keen for Britain to target the "next 11" biggest emerging economies, including Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey, which are being pursued less than the BRIC economies but which are nonetheless growing rapidly.
Launching a joint report with Ernst & Young, the CBI director general, John Cridland, outlined his hope that Britain could become the new Germany, calling on the government to step up export finance and floating the idea of an export tax credit.
"The next decade could be ours... We have the opportunity to supply emerging middle classes in China and other emerging markets with the goods they need," he said. "We can do in the next decade what Germany did, in a different way, this decade ... although we haven't yet seized the opportunity and reoriented from the EU and the US to greater penetration of the emerging markets."
About 4 per cent of British exports now go to the BRIC countries, while 6 per cent go to our considerably smaller Irish neighbour. Some 11 per cent of German and US exports end up in the BRIC countries.Reuse content