Insurance · 9 May 2017

Join the small international traders taking £78bn each month

International traders
Emerging markets in India, South Africa and the UAE could be crucial for small exporters as Britain leaves the EU

Britain’s growing legion of small international traders has reached 1.5m, according to fresh research, as more entrepreneurs than ever explore new markets.

The study of UK exporters, by payment platform WorldFirst, claimed smaller firms trading with new territories were contributing a total of £78bn to the economy every month.

London was found to home the most international traders, with almost four in ten firms based in the capital. The East Midlands followed, housing around a third of Britain’s small exporting businesses.

WorldFirst also revealed the export routes generating the most business for international traders.

Western Europe remained the most lucrative trading partner for UK firms, representing almost a quarter of all exports, but the value of trade opportunities in China and South America – both worth six per cent of British exports – have started to emerge.

In terms of the sectors seeing the most international trading success, transportation and distribution took the greatest market share with 51 per cent of total UK exports from small firms.

Small manufacturers also took a significant share of the exports market, making up 39 per cent of all trade, after UK goods became more attractive to overseas markets following the declining value of the pound since the EU referendum in June 2016.

Entrepreneurs in the medical and health sector were others experiencing exporting growth. The industry now represents 37 per cent international exporting from Britain’s small businesses.

Commenting on the economic value of small international traders, Jonathan Quin, co-founder and CEO at WorldFirst, said it was time the contribution was recognised.

“Our research shows that over 1.5 million SMEs are trading more than £78bn a month across international borders. This is a significant contribution to the UK economy,” Quin said in a statement.

“It’s time that small and medium-sized businesses enjoyed the same products, price and service that was only previously available to big businesses.”

The figures arrived alongside the launch of a new WorldFirst international payment platform.

The World Account service will allow small international traders to open local bank accounts in countries across the world without added expenses. Quin explained the platform would enable entrepreneurs to access new territories without extra fees for foreign accounts.

“Our World Account should solve what is a pain point for many ambitious businesses who buy or sell internationally enabling them to manage their international accounts in one single platform wherever and whenever they want. We think this will be the world’s most flexible financial platform to support a new era of international business,” Quin said of the new service.

Inspired to join the growing legion of international traders? Read our ten tips to making exporting simple

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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