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‘Brand Britain’ helping boost international trade as 46% UK SMEs say Brexit uncertainly not dampening exporting appetite


A new survey has found that UK SMEs are still hungry for international trade success in the face Brexit uncertainty.

The research, called the UK SME Confidence Survey, commissioned by OFX and conducted by OnePoll, quizzed 500 UK SMEs owners and senior managers with employee counts ranging from 10 to 249.

It found that 46% of those asked said Brexit had had no effect on their hunger for international trade.

Interestingly, there was a switch in primary market focus too. In 2017, the USA was cited as the most attractive market for exports at 62%, but this year’s confidence survey saw the USA stand at just 36%.

Europe, conversely, fell back into favour with 45% of those quizzed this year suggesting Western Europe was their favoured growth market, compared to just 20% last year.

The OFX report summarised that: ”Again, it seems that Brexit-related uncertainty is no longer holding small businesses back from their EU trade ambitions.

“Despite the uncertainty surrounding the terms of Brexit, small British businesses are increasingly optimistic about international trade.

“In fact, the majority expect to increase overseas sales in the next year. And it’s not all talk. Since 2017, 47% increased overseas sales, growing international revenues by an average of £50,000.

“It’s good to know that political uncertainty hasn’t dampened the spirits of UK businesses.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, business owners in regions favoured leaving the European Union during the referendum in 2016 were most confident and optimistic about international sales now. This manifested itself in the survey results where England-based responders, where the Leave vote was highest in the United Kingdom, were the most confident, with 72% saying they were optimistic about future international trade compared to just 40% of responders from Scotland-based firms, for where the referendum result was firmly in favour with Remain.

Read more: 10% of UK SMEs now exporting

Despite the divisions in future export and international trade confidence though, one thing that united all four nations’ small businesses was the confidence in the ‘made in Britain’ brand. Over half (53%) of those asked said that the ‘Britishness’ of their brand and products was an invaluable asset when selling services and goods internationally.

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