A week after UK Trade & Investment was awarded £13m to help UK firms export, research by Barclays was released which shows that exporting businesses grow by almost a third in just two years.Carried out amongst 1,500 UK SMEs, the research revealed that 29 per cent experienced a positive impact on their bottom line within just six months of expanding into international markets. Eight in ten businesses benefitted from international business within two years of exporting. Given these numbers it’s not surprising that 31 per cent of those who currently export are planning on branching into new markets in the next year and a further 24 per cent in the next two years. Understandably, with continuing uncertainty in the euro zone, businesses are looking for export opportunities further afield: nine out of the top ten countries listed as targets by businesses exporting for three years or more are outside of Europe, with Hong Kong, India, China and Australia topping the list. The findings are good news, considering the role export plays in business growth and the recovery of the UK economy. Nearly a third of businesses that currently sell overseas have had to employ more people in the UK and recruited an average of 15 extra people in the UK. The scale of the impact of the move into international markets has surprised many SMEs, with over half saying this level of growth exceeded their expectations. Beyond business growth, the Barclays survey found that almost nine in ten businesses claim there are other benefits to exporting, including having greater confidence in the longevity of the business, increased productivity, stronger innovation and a longer lifespan for their products and services. Along with the research came the announcement that Barclays has joined forces with UKTI. The partnership will “help deliver a co-ordinated approach to help businesses trade abroad”. Lord Green, Minister for Trade and Investment, commented on this move: “Boosting the UK’s export performance and supporting the growth of small and medium sized enterprises are key parts of our plan for growth that will help us secure a stronger, more balanced and resilient economy. The government wants to see a further 100,000 British businesses exporting by 2020 and is committed to helping businesses of all sizes take their products and services to new markets overseas.” Further, Barclays and the UKTI are launching a series of free International Trading Clinics across the UK. Taking place throughout October and November, these are aimed at all businesses who would like advice and guidance on trading overseas.
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