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SME overseas sales predicted to grow

Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) overseas sales are predicted to total £15 billion over the next 12 months, according to a survey by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks.

The poll of more than 1,000 SMEs found that at present overseas sales account for 21% of the turnover of existing exporters. This figure is expected to rise to 24% over the next year.

This is set to increase as exporters increase their sales and more small firms enter overseas markets. More than a third (34%) of surveyed firms said they are likely to start exporting or increase their sales overseas in the next 12 months.

Annual export figures show that total UK export sales reached £501 billion in 2013, with goods exports accounting for £304 billion and services bringing in £197 billion. The biggest trading partners continued to be the EU (£142 billion) and the US (£40.9 billion).

Key findings:

  • two thirds of manufacturing SMEs expect to start or increase exports in the next 12 months
  • 48% of IT firms expect to grow internationally
  • 60% of SMEs do not currently export
  • 57% of these do not believe their products are suitable for export
  • 5% are deterred by regulation
  • 5% believe that exporting carries too much risk.

Paul Shephard, director for business and private banking at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, said:

"UK products and services are recognised globally for quality and innovation. Our businesses have a long and rich history of exporting to overseas markets.

"We know that UK businesses are feeling more confident in the UK economy and in their own ability to grow with it. Using improving domestic conditions as a springboard, more businesses will look to develop new products and create jobs in a bid to make a bigger global impact."

Mark Robson, regional director of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), said:

"This research is the latest evidence that exporting is key to economic growth, and highlights the continued appetite to export amongst Britain's ambitious small and mid-sized business.

"UKTI has written to all 8,900 mid-sized UK businesses to offer them tailored trade advice and an intensive programme of support to help them start exporting. Businesses excel with UKTI's support and we encourage any company who wants to export to get in touch."