This week, UK Trade & Investment is offering support and advice to thousands of companies that are interested in expanding into overseas markets.
At 90 events held all over the UK, the government department will explain how to access UKTI’s “armoury” of advice, funding and support to take advantage of developments in e-commerce, as well as the popularity of the British brand.
“The UK is a trading nation. But if we are going to double our exports to Â£1 trillion by 2020, we need our SME community to explore international trade,” said Dominic Jermey, Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment.
However, 36% of small and mid-sized firms in the UK say that they have ruled out exploring overseas markets, according to a new survey by YouGov and KMPG, which could significantly inhibit their potential for growth. Businesses that export are 11% more likely to succeed, but complex legal systems and difficulties in plugging in to overseas networks put many businesses off.
Of the 1100 businesses polled, focus on domestic markets was most pronounced among smaller businesses – only one in five mid-sized businesses said that they had no interest in pursuing overseas opportunities. However, at present, just 17% of medium sized businesses in the UK earn revenues outside of the EU, while a quarter of German companies and nearly a third of Italian companies succeed in doing so.
“It is disappointing to see that there is still reticence among both the small business community and the larger firms to explore all options when it comes to international trade. With decades of experience in working with businesses of all sizes, there is always support from UKTI which can prove invaluable to ambitious, expanding businesses,” commented Jermey.
Kevin Smith, senior partner at KPMG London, also urged SMEs to take advantage of the possibilities offered by overseas markets.
“It is not surprising that SMEs who have survived the global recession are choosing to focus solely on the domestic market in the UK, but it is short-sighted given the huge appetite for British goods and services abroad,” he said.