Britain’s small business exporters look beyond Europe for growth

Small firms are trading more with Asia and North America, with China now a primary import and export market

The UK's small and medium enterprises are increasingly trading on a global scale and looking to markets such as Asia and North America for growth, research from the Western Union International Trade Monitor (ITM) has reported.

The quarterly research, conducted with over 1,000 small business exporters and importers, found that less than 50% of small firms class Europe as one of their primary import markets – a major shift from 2012 when 78% of businesses listed Europe as their primary import market.

Instead, the report highlighted that more British business are increasing trade with China, India, America and Canada.

44% of respondents listed China as a primary import market, up 30% from 2014, and 23% as a key export market. Similarly, 19% of businesses surveyed listed India as a key import market; 9% higher than in 2012, while export levels remain unchanged.

Trade with North America has also increased; 35% of business owners ranked the USA and Canada as key import and export markets – listed at 35% and 23% respectively.

Business confidence towards overseas trade has also continued to rise with 37% of UK small and medium-sized companies forecasting international growth;a marked increase on 31% in September.

Western Union said the findings demonstrate a “wider trend for small and medium enterprises to look beyond Europe and take advantage of the benefits of trading internationally”.

Tony Crivelli, UK managing director of Western Union Business Solutions, commented:

“The European economy has been incredibly volatile in recent months as the possibility of a Grexit and even a Brexit dominate the headlines. Meanwhile Asia and North America have continued to grow as key trading partners and they are quickly catching up to their European counterpart.

“Despite this volatility, the ITM shows that British small and medium enterprises are optimistic about the economy and many are forecasting growth in international markets this year. In fact, the outlook is very positive for the second half of 2015.”


(will not be published)