36% of small businesses have no interest in international trade

SMEs in the North East are the least interested in overseas expansion (47 per cent), whereas four in five City businesses look abroad for new growth potential.

Complex legal regimes, lack of networks with overseas organisations and lack of tax incentives were cited to be the main hurdles for exporting abroad.

Kevin Smith, senior partner for KPMG’s national market practice in London said: “It is not surprising that SMEs who have survived the global recession are choosing to focus solely on the domestic market in the UK.”

The statistics are worrying considering that CBI research suggests that businesses are 11 per cent more likely to survive if they export. 

Smith explains that “given the huge appetite for British goods and services abroad”, SMEs should have nothing to fear.

“Making the leap into overseas markets is not nearly as daunting as it seems on paper,” he said. “There are some great success stories of SMEs who have achieved massive growth by successfully moving to overseas markets. Linking in with organisations who run trade missions overseas or have good networks abroad is the first step on a journey that is not nearly as complex as SMEs believe it to be and the rewards can be huge.”

Dominic Jermey, chief executive of UK Trade & Investment, said: “The UK is a trading nation. But if we are going to double our exports to £1tn by 2020, we need our SME community to explore international trade.

“With developments in e-commerce; access to UKTI’s armoury of advice, funds and support and the popularity of the British brand, the world is your oyster when it comes to global trade.

“It is disappointing to see that there is still reticence among both the small business community and the larger firms to explore all options when it comes to international trade. With decades of experience in working with businesses of all sizes, there is always support from UKTI which can prove invaluable to ambitious, expanding businesses.”

True to their word, UKTI is holding their sixth Export Week (10th – 14th November) where they will provide advice and support to small and medium businesses on how to enter new international markets.

If you’re interested in either starting an export journey or increasing international business, then Export Week is good place to start.

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