Firms reaping export success but many won't even consider it, says NECC

The Government must improve access to finance for firms wishing to export, companies have told the NECC

NECC policy adviser Lucy Humphreys
NECC policy adviser Lucy Humphreys

The region’s largest business membership organisation today unveils the results of a major survey looking at barriers facing potential exporters.

The North East Chamber of Commerce International Trade Survey is part of a wider study by the British Chambers of Commerce, which attracted responses from more than 4,700 businesses.

Results show that while the majority of firms have ambitions to grow domestically, less than half are looking to expand their business overseas.

Key findings from the survey show

  • More businesses need to think global:

While 89% of North East businesses have ambitions to grow domestically, less than half of firms (46%) have ambitions to grow internationally.

More than half of businesses (54%) said overseas trade was not critical to their business in the coming 12 months.

78% of current exporters had either increased investment or had maintained levels of investment in export markets in the past year.

  • Current exporters must look to fast-growing markets:

Europe and Asia remain the most popular export regions for UK businesses.

Of the additional 21 ‘high-growth markets’ identified by UK Trade and Investment (41 in total) Japan, Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Hungary are perceived as providing the greatest opportunities for growth in the next five years.

50% of current North East exporters are currently exporting to none of the ‘high-growth markets’.

  • Barriers for potential exporters

42% of potential exporters surveyed said they would like to see more investment in export support services

12% wanted increased access to agents and distributors, while the same percentage called for a reduction in red tape.

28% of business said that access to agents and distributors was holding back their ability to increase export sales, while 21% said it was down to lack of funding.

  • Exporting is good for your business

19% of exporters said that their company’s profitability had risen between 6-10%, while 17% said they had seen profits rise by 11-25%.

NECC policy adviser Lucy Humphreys said: “More must be done to take the fear out of exporting and promote the enormous potential that overseas markets offer.

“This survey backs up what we are also seeing in our own Quarterly Economic Surveys, that the businesses operating in exports markets are reaping the rewards with increased sales and orders, but we do need more businesses to explore foreign shores.

“If we 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.

“And 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.

“The NECC is working in partnership with UKTI and the global Chambers of Commerce network to develop worldwide ‘soft landings’ for members. This is providing British companies entering new markets with practical advice, support and new business connections.”

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