British SMEs should export their way to prosperity

Philip Salter
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FOR entrepreneurs limited by our shores, now is time to leave Britain on the nearest plane, train or automobile. Not to emigrate to a more business friendly environment (at least, not just yet) – but to embrace what made this country great: international trade.

Research commissioned by Barclays reveals some good news for companies weighing up the pros and cons of international expansion:

● A third (29 per cent) of small and medium sized enterprises (SME) see a positive impact on their bottom line within just six months of expanding into international markets.

● Over half (54 per cent) said this growth exceeded their expectations.

● An average of around 336,000 more people are being employed across the UK as a result of businesses exporting or selling to overseas customers.

● Businesses that have been exporting for more than three years plan on branching out to countries including Hong Kong, India, China, Australia and Canada.

The locus of economic power has well and truely shifted from the Old World, which explains why Asia and the countries of the Pacific Rim dominate the top spots for countries looking to trade. Europe’s relative demise is a shame, but Britain can buck the trend and it’s not a zero-sum game.

Napoleon is supposed to have quipped that we were “une nation de boutiquiers”. But he was wrong. We were not a nation of shopkeepers, we were a nation driven by industrialists and traders. Although we’re no longer the workhouse of the world, we still have the potential to make Britain great again.

2010 — 2012
Eight in ten businesses experienced a positive impact on their bottom line after two years of exporting