UK SMEs find too many barriers to export outside UK

At a time when the biggest export market for the UK is Europe, if the button is pressed on article 50 it could potentially impact this territory. Currently exporting offers a significant earning potential for SME’s – the value of which totaled £44.9bn in the month of June for the UK alone, the fastest growth since February 2010.

However, with more than one in five SME’s reporting legislative difficulties in foreign countries as a barrier to exporting, it could affect the UK small business economy even further.

The findings from Hitachi Capital’s British Business Barometer asked 1,139 SMEs in the UK what they consider to be barriers to their business when exporting goods internationally from the UK. The research found that paperwork was the top restriction for 26% of small business owners when it came to exporting goods.

Almost two in five SMEs in manufacturing said that paperwork, including managing customs duties and documentation are restricting when exporting goods. More than one in four said that shipping and logistics caused barriers to exporting and over one in five that the lack of knowledge and experience caused difficulties for business exports.

A third of small and medium sized organisations do not see any barriers restricting the business when exporting. However with the current political situation following the fall out of the EU Referendum, one in five of SMEs in construction reported difficulties with foreign rules and regulations in other countries.

Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance commented: “Paperwork, lack of knowledge and legislation hindering business growth appears to be the biggest hurdles that small businesses face when exporting. It’s key that SMEs understand the rules and regulations of the country the business is exporting to and the Business Barometer has highlighted that this is something that 35% of SMEs feels holds them back – especially if it is a new process. With the uncertainties following the EU referendum, the topic of exporting will be high on everyone’s agenda. What is vital is that whatever the outcome of the exit negotiations, the visibility of these issues doesn’t reduce and the help to grow exports continues to develop. Exporting is important to the UK economy and despite the UK’s impending exit from the EU, overseas markets still represent an attractive option for many small firms. Emerging economies such as India, China and the Middle East all have potential to significantly expand the available market for SMEs.”