International Trade

Exports are being "held back" by red tape

1 min read

17 December 2010

Small businesses are exporting, but their potential is being held back by red tape.

One in three businesses finds red tape and bureaucracy as the main challenge when exporting products, a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of FSB members currently export products and services, but 32 per cent are being held back by red tape and bureaucracy.

Forty-eight per cent are put off by fluctuating exchange rates, 25 per cent by worries they might not get paid, and 23 per cent by difficulties in finding customers.

“With the UK economy in fragile recovery, a number of well-targeted initiatives could be just the ticket that small business exporters are looking for,” says Mike Cherry, policy chairman at the FSB.

In 2009, research by the FSB found that only 10 per cent of annual sales went to countries outside the UK, but this has risen to 23 per cent in 2010, and shows good potential for further growth.

Of those businesses that export, almost two-thirds (59 per cent) export manufactured goods and 42 per cent services. Most firms (87 per cent) currently export to Europe, followed by the US (45 per cent) and Canada (25 per cent).

“Manufacturing and defence are two sectors that offer big opportunities for small firms to export, but more effectively targeted information on the support that is already available is vital if small businesses are to be successful,” adds Mike Cherry.

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