UK SMEs diverting exports away from the EU

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The UK’s smallest exporting firms are reportedly ‘jumping before they’re pushed’ by selling products away from the EU. 

Some £10bn in exports have been diverted to other international markets over the last four years according to research from Aston University in what it calls evasive action from businesses to mitigate the damage of a potential collapse in ongoing trade talks. 

The university analysed 340,000 export transactions by 26,000 UK businesses over half a decade and found that the smallest firms had switched up to 46% of new export growth to non-EU markets since the referendum took place. For SMEs, that figure was 19%. 

Commonwealth nations, Russia, India, Brazil, China and South Africa were the primary new export markets. 

However, data does also suggest that the percentage share of total exports into the EU has been gradually falling over time, perhaps the result of increased confidence in selling further afield and increased global demand for goods and services made in Britain. 

Still today, over half of UK exports land in the EU – a trading relationship that’s worth £650 billion every year. 

Read more: Be prepared for no-deal Brexit, BoE warns lenders

Professor of economics at Aston Business School, Jun Du, commented that: “This evidence suggests that UK exporters are jumping before they’re pushed – finding alternative markets worldwide for their products even before we know the outcome of the current UK-EU trade negotiations and any potential new barriers.

“Of course, we will need to see whether these patterns still hold true in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.”

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