Companies missing out by failing to embrace overseas trade

Posted: Wednesday 8th February

Businesses in Shropshire risk stunting their growth by “cold-shouldering” export opportunities to focus on domestic markets, according to an international trade expert.

Nicole Howarth issued a rallying call to county’s companies to consider overseas opportunities as a way to boost their business in a stagnant UK economy.

Only one in five firms in the UK are planning to trade internationally because of fears over red tape and the Eurozone crisis, the Export Imperative report revealed.

Research from 12,000 companies showed that only around 20 per cent of British businesses, currently focused on domestic sales, are planning to expand their overseas operation.

Nicole, managing director of Telford-based Global Freight, said: “Internationally trading firms have traditionally fared better during times of economic downturn, regardless of whether they are SMEs or big corporate companies.

“We have clients which are continuing to grow precisely because they have embraced opportunities overseas, whether that’s purely selling their products overseas or a combination of both import and export. The Export Imperative report said UK firms were ‘cold-shouldering’ exports because of concerns surrounding red tape and establishing local operations overseas.

“But there are ways to overcome these perceived obstacles, it is not always necessary to have an overseas office. Many shipping companies, like Global Freight, already have agents in countries all over the world and are experts in dealing with the paperwork and documentation which is required.”

The report also found companies were concerned about a fluctuating exchange rate and language barriers when dealing with companies abroad.

Nicole added: “A CBI study in November said increasing exports could add £20 billion to the UK economy by 2020. Now is the time for companies to start thinking about how they can have a slice of that.”

UK Trade and Investment, the government department responsible for promoting foreign trade, has launched an Exporting for Growth campaign, saying increasing exports should be a top priority in 2012.

It is looking to double to number of SMEs trading abroad to around 50,000 over the next three years.

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