Two of the UK’s foremost international trade advocates have joined forces to encourage more British businesses to rediscover their mercantile spirit during the recession.  

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Lord Davies, Minister for Trade and Investment, are urging companies - especially SMEs - to recognise the numerous trading opportunities in foreign markets and to start exporting.  

The joint call comes at the beginning of World Trade Week UK and follows the publication of the BCC’s international trade survey, Exporting Britain.

  The report reveals that most companies export because they have been approached by their customers (58%), or by an agent or distributor (19%). Half of the firms polled said they export to specific markets because they already had connections there. The BCC argues that these figures suggest that many businesses are not as proactive as they could be when it comes to exporting. 

Other key results from the survey include: 

-       43% of firms said they do not export as it does not feature in their business plan. 

-        Of the 87% of exporters trading in Europe a minority encountered non-tariff barriers. 

-      Help finding clients would encourage 21% of non-exporting businesses to consider it, while 16% would be incentivised by a ‘one stop shop’ that provided market research, legal advice and fiscal support. 

Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, said: “Exporting is vital to the future growth of the UK economy. Not just in manufacturing but services as well. Thanks to our membership of the EU, we have a home market of nearly 500 million consumers and we should be using it as much as our European competitors are. “Britain has some hugely successful exporters, both large and small, but we don’t have enough of them. We need to explore why these companies are successful, what drives them, and what lessons can be learnt by other companies that have equally good products but do not see exporting as key.” 

Lord Davies, Minister for Trade and Investment added: “For UK businesses winning sales and beating the recession is too important to leave to chance. Businesses need to take the time to think strategically and work out which overseas markets best suit their products. “UKTI research shows that most businesses overestimate the risks and underestimate the benefits of exporting. It is vital we give British businesses world class support to make the most of global opportunities and increase their activity in overseas markets. “UK Trade & Investment’s local market experts helped 20,700 businesses generate £3.6bn last year. Whether it’s our Passport to Export scheme or helping companies attend an overseas conference or exhibition, UK Trade & Investment can help companies grow their international business.”