The number of SMEs in Scotland trading overseas is declining and those that do are exporting less, according to new research.
The latest Business in Britain report from Bank of Scotland found that numbers of exporting SMEs fell in the last half of 2015, from 30 per cent to 27 per cent. And firms that sell their products and services internationally report that overseas trading made up 31 per cent of their total sales, a 1 per cent decline from the previous six months.
China and Europe hindering trade
Slowing economic growth in China and Europe have created a challenging trading environment for Scottish businesses, the Bank of Scotland argued.
Graham Blair, regional director, SME Banking Scotland, said: “As weakening growth in China and the Eurozone creates headwinds for some exporters, it is unsurprising to see that fewer Scottish SME exporters are generating less of their sales overseas, but it’s encouraging to see that more businesses are looking to grow those international sales in the year ahead.
Upscaling can be ‘daunting’
“Starting or scaling-up export activity can be a daunting prospect for businesses, but the benefits are many and we are working hard to support Scottish firms’ export ambitions.”
According the report, less than a quarter (21 per cent) of firms grew their exports in the last six months of last year, but 61 per cent saw their levels of overseas sales remain steady, and 18 per cent saw them decline.
Around 10 per cent of exporters expect to keep growing their overseas sales during the first half of 2016, the survey of 1,500 UK businesses – mainly SMEs – found.
Other UK-wide findings include:
- 37 per cent of UK firms predict increasing sales within Europe, with 19 per cent believing sales will fall.
- 10 per cent expect sales to the Asia Pacific region – including China – to fall, compared with 24 per cent that think they will grow.
- One in three believe they’ll see a sales boost with the US and Canada, with just 18 per cent expecting sales there to fall.