Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Business, the Economy and Finance, Adam Price AM has outlined proposals for boosting Welsh exports as new trade statistics reveal that Wales now has a trade deficit.
A decade ago Wales had a £2.5billion trade surplus, meaning the nation exported more than it imported.
UK Regional Trade Statistics released this week by HM Revenue & Customs, which has introduced a new methodology to calculate the data, show that our historically strong exporting nation now has a trade deficit, whereby the value of imports outweighs the value of exports.
This week's data also reveals that the European Single Market continues to be Wales' largest trading partner, accounting for two-thirds (67%) of all Welsh exports, and has continued to increase over recent years.
Plaid Cymru's Adam Price said whilst exports were slowly increasing, the figures showed the need for a comprehensive export strategy and to diversify the Welsh export base.
The party's Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP said the UK Government's threat of leaving the EU without any agreements on trade would be disastrous for the Welsh economy.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Business, the Economy and Finance, Adam Price AM said:
"Maintaining a healthy trade balance is crucial for the Welsh economy and is a major component to increasing our nation's GDP.
"Wales has a proud history as an exporting nation. However these new figures reveal that Wales has a trade deficit. Whilst exports have increased slightly, these figures are a matter of grave concern and should be ringing alarm bells with the Welsh Government.
"The statistics also highlight how the single market continues to be Wales' largest trading partner, accounting for a staggering 67% of all Welsh exports. This surplus has continued to grow over recent years.
"If Wales is to close the prosperity gap with the rest of the UK we must expand and diversify the Welsh export base, but in order for this to happen, we need a comprehensive export strategy and a dedicated arms-length business-friendly agency - working to attract export-oriented investment and support and encourage indigenous based exporters - to deliver upon it.
"The Welsh Government will soon be publishing its economic strategy and I would urge the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy to seriously consider, as part of a wider strategy for trade and inward investment, the clear need for an export strategy to tackle this problem."
Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament and Treasury Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards added:
"The latest figures support and reinforce what Plaid Cymru has said since last year's referendum; that continued participation in the single market is crucial to Welsh exports and the wider economy.
"Just this weekend Westminster's Secretary of State for International Trade said the UK 'will pay a price for not being in the single market'. This is a brutal truth for Wales and is why the National Assembly must have a role in setting UK trade policy.
"Furthermore, the UK Government's threats to sever all ties with Europe without trade agreements having been agreed could be even more disastrous for the Welsh economy given that two-thirds of our exports are within the single market.
"Whichever way we look at it, the Tories seem intent on throwing the Welsh economy under the bus in its pursuit of an extreme Brexit that has no mandate.
"The Welsh Government must urgently respond to these export figures with a comprehensive export strategy with the right expertise to deliver it."