Majority of UK business is confident of growth despite Brexit concerns

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According to Santander’s Trade Barometer, published today, more than two thirds of British businesses are confident they will grow over the next three years despite concerns about the potential impact of Brexit on the economy.

In Santander’s first survey of UK businesses since the Chequers agreement, confidence around growth was directly linked with plans for international expansion despite the uncertainties around Brexit and the wider global political situation.

Sixty nine percent of businesses said they plan to expand their international activity in the coming year, the highest ever figure recorded in the Trade Barometer series. Alongside that, 75 per cent of businesses who plan to start trading internationally for the first time, are confident of delivering growth in the next twelve months.

The Trade Barometer showed that 39 per cent of business expect to see growth in the Eurozone and 21 per cent are expecting future growth in non-Eurozone EU countries. Outside of Europe, more businesses expected growth to come from the Asia-Pacific market compared to North America.

John Carroll, Head of International Santander said: “The Santander Trade Barometer reveals that most SMEs are still confident about growth and Brexit is not deterring many from pursuing growth opportunities in the European Union and further afield. Larger numbers are also seeing attractive opportunities in other global markets with a third now expecting growth to be strongest in the Asia-Pacific region. Thanks to Santander’s extensive understanding and support for UK firms looking to trade internationally, we know that markets such as China, India and the UAE are attracting increasing interest from UK exporters.”

Minister of State for the Department of International Trade, Baroness Fairhead, said: “I’m delighted that this report highlights the growing sense of ambition and drive to export amongst UK businesses, as more and more are recognising that expansion overseas is a fundamental factor to growth.

“We will continue to support UK businesses to prosper on the world stage, which is why our Export Strategy sets out an ambition to increase exports to 35 per cent of GDP. By continuing to collaborate with businesses from all sectors and of all sizes, we will be superbly placed not only to deal with the uncertainties of the rapidly changing global economic environment – but also to capitalise on them.”

The Trade Barometer also revealed more businesses than ever before are making plans for Brexit. Sixty-five percent of businesses, up from 44 per cent at the end of last year are preparing themselves with half scenario planning for all possible outcomes of the negotiations as well as more traditional measures such as freezing headcount or pausing investment decisions until there is more clarity.