Exporters lack a strategy

The findings of a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) show that existing regulations and problems around accessing credit are hindering export growth in the UK.

The survey of more than 8000 businesses shows that nearly two-thirds of potential exporters (63%) see access to finance issues as a reason not to trade overseas, while a quarter of companies believe that red tape, such as that associated with export licenses, is a barrier to doing so.

Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of companies that are already exporting have failed to put an export strategy in place.

With the domestic economy almost flat, however, exporting is seen as an important route to growth for companies and nearly half (44%) of respondents said they would be more likely to consider exporting if sales revenues deteriorated.

The BCC is calling for the creation of a business bank and for improvement in the service offered by existing banks to address issues around access to finance. In addition, it argued, high street banks should train front line staff to be able to explain state-backed financial products to their business customers.

It also wants to see more businesses encouraged to proactively pursue export opportunities and, to this end, would like a variable fee system to be introduced within the Overseas Market Introduction Service, which is operated by UK Trade and Investment.

If this was based on company size, the BCC suggested, it would prevent smaller firms from being crowded out.

BCC Director-General John Longworth said: “The Government can make some simple changes which will go a long way to giving firms the confidence and encouragement they need to trade overseas. Incentivising more firms to take part in trade missions would be a start to getting more companies thinking about adapting their products for the export market."

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