Number of UK SMEs exporting on the rise

Thu 29 Nov 2018
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of SMEs exporting to overseas markets has increased by 6.6% to 232,000 (9.8% of all SMEs), a vindication of the work being done by the government and industry in raising the awareness of the opportunities in international trade. The same report has shown that the number of large business exporting has also increased by 6.1% to 3,500 (41/7% of all large business).

The growing number of businesses exporting has led to an increase of 4.4% in the total exports from the UK, which reached £637bn in September. One of the key developments has been the increase in the number of new businesses who are looking at exporting at an earlier stage of their development. The number of companies who are less than 2 years old to have exported in the last year has increased by 19.9% to 47,000.

Showing the world the UK is 'Open to Export'

While this increase in the number of SMEs exporting is undoubtedly good news for the UK economy, there is still much more to be done to encourage many of the remaining 90.2% of SMEs not yet exporting. It is for this reason that the Institute has launched its new ‘Buccaneer’s Guide to Export Success’ – a new membership package designed to give new exporters all the information and support they need to take their first steps in international trade.

The new package provides several of the Institute’s existing membership benefits, including its helpline, discounts on training and access to a wealth of valuable information. It marries all this with guided support geared around the Export Action Plan tool on Open to Export and bespoke market research.

The Institute took on Open to Export in 2017 as part of its efforts to encourage SMEs into export and we are delighted to have already played a role in the positive trends that have since emerged. We are also proud supporters of the government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign.

The Export Strategy already having an effect?

Upon the release of the figures, the Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox MP, said:

“Today’s news is further evidence that the high-quality goods and services produced by British businesses are selling all over the world. As an international economic department, when my Ministerial team and I travel abroad, we see first hand the unprecedented demand for British products, and the results of the Annual Business Survey show that we are responding to the demand.

“Our Export Strategy sets out an offer to every business that has the ambition to start exporting or increase their existing operation, as we look to move exports as a percentage of GDP from 30% to 35%.”