Daniel Williams of Lloyds Bank
Daniel Williams, area director for global transaction banking, SME at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, explains why now is as good a time as ever to explore exporting.
A lot has been said recently about the fertile exporting environment for UK businesses.
The low value of sterling has made our goods and services more attractive to overseas buyers and our impending departure from the EU is prompting British businesses to look beyond Europe for new trading partners.
Recent Government statistics are proving that we’re making the most of growing international demand, too.
The Office for National Statistics’ first set of full year figures on Britain’s trade since the Brexit vote reported the value of our exports rose 11.3% to £617bn in 2017.
In particular, exports to non-EU countries increased by 11.6%, which tells us that businesses aren’t afraid of exploring markets further afield.
Our own research at Lloyds Bank has also found that the last six months have been good for exporters. A quarter (25%) of exporters we spoke to in our Business in Britain report said their total exports had gone up over the past six months. A similar number (24%) expected their total exports to increase over the first six months of 2018 too.
Despite these positive figures, a worrying one in four (25%) exporters still haven’t reviewed their trading strategy since we voted to leave the EU. Of those that have, more than half (53%) have decided to focus more on UK opportunities.
While there are benefits to focusing on domestic opportunities, these businesses are limiting their potential growth. They are also relying on the performance of the British economy – if it’s doing well and confidence among consumers is high, demand for business’ goods and services will be there. If the economy takes a downturn, however, businesses will have little other trade to soften the blow.
So, why are these firms not expanding their international footprint?
We carried out a separate survey of more than 2,000 exporters with YouGov last year. It found that, of those firms that said they had exported in the past but not in the previous 12 months, more than a quarter (28%) said the reason for their increased domestic focus was because they had been unable to find further export opportunities.
The solution? Have the most up-to-date information to hand.
We developed our International Trade Portal to tackle this problem and to help firms identify target markets. The portal helps firms prioritise the best overseas opportunities, and provides specific advice on how to avoid the potential pitfalls that come with trading with new countries.
The ability to access support and advice from partners such as the Department for International Trade’s GREAT.gov.uk can also play a key part in a firm’s international trade success.
Exporting will always present its challenges but firms should know that help is on hand. To make sure British businesses continue prosper once we leave the EU, we need to be making the most of international demand.
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