As the new cabinet settle down to work on a smooth Brexit, research has revealed that 93 per cent of small British exporters depend on Europe for business.
The new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – entitled: “Destination Export: The small business export landscape” – also highlighted that 20 out of the 30 most popular export destinations for small British firms are in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA).
More than one-in-five British small business owners sell abroad, and the average small exporter earns 35 per cent of their turnover from such activities, the research also revealed.
“The FSB has clearly and consistently called for clarity on what the UK’s exit from the EU means for business, with particular emphasis on access to the single market and the free movement of people and trade,” said policy director Martin McTague.
“The majority of FSB members export to the single market with provides access to 500 million potential consumers, more than 26m businesses and is worth around £9tn.”
The research also shed light on the benefits exporting brings to small firm owners, with 80 per cent of those surveyed of the belief that doing so gives them access to more customers, and almost three-quarters citing increased turnover as a key advantage of selling abroad. Increased profitability and more credibility were also cited as important perks.
The study’s insight into non-EU export destinations also suggested which markets might be key priorities for Liam Fox in his new role as trade minister – with 58 per cent selling to the US and 45 per cent to Australia, whose prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly offered the UK a free trade deal.
Amongst emerging market destinations, South Africa and China were top choices for small UK firms – while one-in-five exporters trade with the United Arab Emirates.
“Small businesses that export are more likely to survive, grow and innovate. But in addition to more traditional barriers such as language and foreign exchange, businesses are having to deal with a rapidly changing export landscape and the advantages and challenges brought about by e-commerce,” added McTague.
“Any support must be designed with this in mind and should be able to cater to a wide range of export needs, both for those currently exporting and for those considering doing so.”
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