Only one in ten small businesses are trading internationally compared to almost half of their larger counterparts during 2013, according the Office for National Statistic’s latest Annual Business Survey.
The ONS survey shows that 48.6 per cent of non-financial businesses employing 250 or more people were importing goods or services and 40.7 per cent exporting. This compares to 10.1 per cent of those with less than 50 employees importing and 10.8 per cent exporting.
The survey shows a huge gap between the share of companies trading internationally as they reach the £1m turnover mark, with the share either exporting or importing increasing from 12.6 per cent below £1m to 40.9 per cent between £1m and £5m.
“Businesses with a higher turnover were more likely to trade internationally in goods or services, with 75.1 per cent of businesses with a turnover greater than £500m trading goods or services, compared to 12.6 per cent of businesses with a turnover less than £1m in 2013,” according to the release.
There was a small increase in the number of non-financial businesses engaging in international trade between 2012 and 2013, with 308,300 importing or exporting in 2013 (15.6 per cent), compared to 287,800 in 2012 (15.2 per cent).
UK companies are still more likely to import goods than export them, with 7.6 per cent of non-financial businesses are importing, as opposed to 5.9 per cent exporting. However, 6.8 per cent of companies exported services compared to 4.6 per cent importing, demonstrating the strength of the UK’s improving service sector.
It’s likely the share of businesses that are exporting will not improve in 2014. Britain’s goods trade deficit widened in September, according to statistics published last week. The country was hit by an increase in oil exports and weak export growth to the European Union, causing the trade deficit to grow to £29bn in the third quarter, compared to £28bn in the second quarter.
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