Most UK traders expect growth in 2022 but Brexit-related delays have caused disruption

Thu 15 Jul 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

uk growth

British importers and exporters are more optimistic about growing their businesses next year than their counterparts who sell only domestically, despite disruption caused by Brexit.

This is according to a new survey of 1,000 companies by HSBC.

Over half (60%) of the respondents that import or export expect growth in 2022, compared with 46% of the domestic firms responding to the same question.

A majority (52%) of respondents had been negatively impacted by new rules for trade with the EU since the end of the transition period on New Year’s Eve, compared with 47% when the research was last conducted in January.

Delivery delays

Firms identified ‘delays in receiving goods’ as their biggest Brexit-related issue. In January their main complaint was ‘increased time spent on administrative tasks’.

Ian Tandy, head of trade for HSBC UK, said pandemic restrictions combined with Brexit to produce a challenging first half of the year.

“It’s very encouraging to see that, despite this, exporters and importers remain confident about finding growth in the year ahead,” he said in the Times.

Trade deals welcomed

More than two thirds (69%) of exporters said that future free trade agreements would be important for growth and 54% said they would be more likely to consider exporting to a new market if a trade deal was in place.

In addition, more than a third (34%) of importers and exporters said they would be likely to adapt their operations to take advantage of the eight new freeports that are being created in England.

More productive

The survey backs recent comments by exports minister Graham Stuart, reported in IOE&IT Daily Update.

Stuart told a recent International Trade Select Committee: “All the data and our research show that companies that export, compared to their peers that don’t, in general are more resilient, productive, innovative, and they tend to pay higher wages. These are tendencies that come from exporting…[and are] all the things you’d like to have across the UK economy.”

Freedom feeling

Bullish reports have highlighted general business optimism ahead of 19 July’s ‘Freedom Day’ when most pandemic restrictions are set to end.

Accountancy firm BDO’s latest optimism index – reported in City AM – jumped to 112.45 in June, up from 109.71, to its highest level since the survey started in 2005.