Over half of owners at small UK companies are expecting an exports boom to drive business growth over the next three years, according to new research.
The study, undertaken by market analyst Oxford Economics for American Express, found that 57 per cent of small firm owners believed exports would increase by four per cent by 2020. An optimistic one in five expected eight per cent growth over the same period in overseas trading.
The findings suggested an increasingly global outlook for the country’s entrepreneurs in response to Britain’s exit from the EU, with small business owners looking to capitalise on domestic currency fluctuations for trading opportunities.
Latest figures showed that the value of sterling sat at 16 per cent lower than before the EU referendum in June 2016, and owners could see an exports boom as their goods become cheaper internationally.
With the UK government set to start negotiating trade deals with countries around the world, the research uncovered a strong belief among small firms that general prospects would improve. According to the research, owners were twice as likely to expect economic growth to accelerate over the next three years rather than slow down.
Commenting on the positive outlook of small firms, Jose Carvalho, a senior vice president at American Express, said: “It’s very encouraging to see this evidence of optimism and self-confidence among small enterprises, both in Europe and globally. Business owners are deftly navigating through challenges and this resilience is helping them to thrive.”
However, a recent study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) into the business impact of Brexit suggested that small firms shouldn’t expect sales from emerging global markets to act as a substitute for trading with the EU.
According to the study, some 92 per cent of small UK exporters sell to EU countries, and were an exports boom to materialise, it could depend on the strength of Britain’s access to the European single market.
FSB chairman Mike Cherry stressed the importance of government support for small firms in the transition period to the UK leaving the EU.
“We need the government to enhance specific support for small exporters to reach new customers and to negotiate ambitious UK-specific trade deals with large and emerging markets,” he said in a statement.
“Evidence from our members shows the need for ministers to safeguard and promote an easy trading landscape, and to make sure small businesses have access to the right talent at the right time.”
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