Are British exporters Brexit-ready? Almost half have not reviewed their export strategies since the referendum

 
Jasper Jolly
Felixstowe UK's Biggest Container Port
The EU is one of the UK's top trading partners (Source: Getty)

Almost half of British exporters have not yet reviewed their strategy for selling goods abroad since Brexit, in a “concerning” finding revealed by a survey published today.

Some 48 per cent of British exporters have not yet assessed how they will respond to the various possibilities for a post-Brexit trading relationship, according to the poll by Lloyds Bank.

The EU is the UK’s largest single trading partner, with 47 per cent of UK goods exports going to the bloc, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Although there are some signs from business surveys that exporters have been boosted in the past year by a weaker pound, desire for continued trade cooperation is still strong. Half the firms surveyed said the failure to agree a UK/EU trade deal after Brexit would be harmful.

Read more: British manufacturing order books strongest in almost 30 years

More than half of the 1,000 firms surveyed by Lloyds Bank count the EU as their most important trading region, while 85 per cent trade with European countries.

Of firms who had undertaken a review of their trading options, a quarter said they plan to look beyond the EU to grow business if trade is made more difficult. The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has previously said frictionless trade will not be possible.

A similar proportion, 30 per cent, of exporters who have assessed their operations say they will focus on domestic markets.

Clive Higglesden, head of trade at Lloyds Bank Global Transaction Banking, said: “With a year since the vote and negotiations to leave the EU now underway, it’s concerning to consider that almost half of British exporters have yet to assess what changes may occur and what action needs to be taken."

He added: “Wait-and-see is not really an adequate strategy for exporters, and businesses should be acting now to manage any risks on the horizon and possibly explore new opportunities.”

Volatility of exchange rates is exporting businesses’ biggest fear, after the big fall in the pound since the EU referendum in June 2016 boosted exports but made imports far more expensive.

Read more: Sterling fall boosts British exporters above EU rivals

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