A business group has called for measures to take the “fear” out of exporting after a new study showed that fewer than half of firms plan to expand overseas.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said a poll of 4,700 companies revealed that 90% had ambitions to grow domestically but only 43% had international plans.
The BCC said firms needed increased support if the UK was to fulfil its potential as a leading export nation. The research showed that just over half of exporters said selling overseas had a positive impact on their bottom line within a year of expanding.
Europe and Asia were the most popular export regions for UK businesses, while countries including Japan, Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Hungary were seen as the biggest opportunities for growth.
John Longworth, director general of the BCC said: “It’s understandable that less than half of the businesses we surveyed have ambitions to grow internationally, but it proves that we need to do more as a nation to take the fear out of exporting. I speak to businesses that have full order books here in the UK and don’t see why they would need to take their goods and services overseas.
“To transform businesses’ domestic mindset, we need to create an environment that makes it worthwhile for them to export. If we in Britain are serious about rebalancing our economy, we must invest even more in supporting and promoting international trade. The UK should be matching the level of resourcing dedicated to export support provided by our major international competitors.
He added: “Government intervention must be more focused in areas that can really make a difference, such as providing greater access to finance to growing firms, particularly when a quarter of non-exporters say that increased funding would encourage them to export.”