The past 18 months has seen a phenomenal rise in the number of UK SMEs exporting goods and services to the European market, with four in five exporting SMEs saying that they now deal with the continent.
Research conducted by Western Union Business Solutions, released today, found that nearly half of businesses have increased the number of countries that they do business with, suggesting that UK SMEs are becoming increasingly international in outlook. A third said that they expected their international activity to keep growing throughout 2015.
The report, called the International Trade Monitor, also found that the share of business revenue that comes from exporting is higher for UK SMEs than in any other Western economy. For SMEs that engage in international trade, this makes up around a quarter of their income on average, compared to 18% in the US and 12% in Canada. After the EU, China is thought to present the greatest export potential for UK SMEs; trade with Russia, meanwhile, has tumbled, with just 4.4% of SMEs exporting to the country this quarter, compared to 22% at the end of 2014.
“This research highlights the UK’s reliance on having a healthy, robust export market compared to other developed economies. SME revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the domestic export market, and exporters need to ensure they remain as internationally competitive as possible,” said Tony Crivelli, Managing Director for Europe at Western Union Business Solutions.
“It is encouraging to see that, for the second quarter in a row, over a third of SMEs have seen business revenues increase as a result of their international trade activity, with many anticipating further growth in this space in the coming months.”
He added: “China represents the biggest export growth opportunity for UK SMEs. However, Europe is consistently regarded as the largest trade market, both for UK importers and exporters, and this should not be ignored.”