SMEs set their sights on overseas growth opportunities during Export Week

IN: Business news

UK SMEs expect to increase exporting activity over the next quarter, according to the latest Federation of Small Businesses report, though experts suggest more must be done to meet government's trade targets.

undefinedThe FSB survey, released on Monday to coincide with UK Trade and Investment's Export Week, shows a net balance of 24 per cent of SMEs hope to increase exports in the next three months, with manufacturers in particular embracing overseas trade.

This announcement has come as welcome news for UK ministers, many of whom have been emphasising the importance of boosting exports in order to ensure a long-term recovery for the British economy.

"If we don't broaden our horizons, we consign ourselves to the certain fate of becoming a marginal, bit-part player in the global economy," warned Business Secretary Vince Cable at last week's British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference, pointing out, "There are up to 150,000 UK firms with the potential to export who are failing to exploit the available opportunities."

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna echoed this view, highlighting the fact that government schemes aimed at providing £6.5bn worth of finance for exporters had failed to get through to British businesses.

"We desperately need to get more businesses exporting to boost middle-income jobs, grow our way out of the cost-of-living crisis and so we can ensure Britain can compete," commented Umunna.

undefinedThis supports findings from the FSB, which showed lack of access to finance was a major barrier to exporting for 23 per cent of businesses, driving Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to announce a new export credit scheme at a trade meeting in Brazil on Monday.

Alongside this issue, uncertainty over fluctuating exchange rates and difficulty finding new business also emerged as problem areas for small businesses looking to export.

While UKTI works to help SMEs overcome many of these challenges, just 50 per cent of small businesses are currently aware of the extent of their services, underlining the importance of Export Week to raise awareness for UKTI's mission.

This nationwide initiative features over seventy events for SMEs, including workshops, seminars and advice on topics from intellectual property rights to international marketing, with a specific focus on mid-sized firms.

"Exporting helps companies grow and research shows that exporters do better with UKTI's help," remarked Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston, launching Export Week, concluding, "I encourage all companies with global ambitions to get in contact with UKTI this week."

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