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UK firms lack export ambition

Less than half of British firms (43%) have ambitions to expand into overseas markets, according to a survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The BCC's international trade survey for Q1 2014 found that while 90% of respondents wanted to expand domestically, less than half aspired to branch out into international markets.

The survey of 4,742 firms found that nearly half (48%) of existing exporters define themselves as 'reactive' exporters - only exporting when they receive unsolicited orders.

Only 22% are 'proactive' exporters who specifically target overseas markets.

However a quarter of potential exporters said that more support and funding would encourage them to start exporting.

Key findings:

  • 68% of non-exporters say they don't have a suitable export product or service
  • 75% of exporters have traded overseas for more than 5 years
  • new exporters (0-2 years) only make up 11% of exporters
  • Europe and Asia are the most popular export regions for British firms
  • 79% of firms say that finding customers, agents and distributors is the most important factor when considering exporting.

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.

"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."