UK exporters say future trade deals will drive their international growth decisions, survey finds

Thu 11 Feb 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

British traders think that the future trade deals signed by the government will be the major driver of their international growth.

The majority (62%) of 1,000 businesses responding to a YouGov poll conducted in January, reported by Global Trade Review yesterday (10 February), said free trade agreements (FTAs) are vital to their future growth.

A third said deals need to be in place with markets before they consider expanding there in the future. 

Ian Tandy, head of international trade for HSBC UK, which commissioned the survey, said: “the message from businesses is that government needs to continue to deliver trade deals with new markets to help firms reach their growth targets through 2021 and beyond.”

New deals

Under Trade Secretary Liz Truss, the UK has signed replacement trade deals with 63 countries that it formerly had deals with as a member of the EU, the BBC reports.

The UK is also able to pursue its own trade deals with countries such as the US, which the EU did not have a deal with.

The UK had high hopes it could sign off a US deal quickly after completing its split from the EU at the end of 2020, but these have faded under the Biden administration which is not prioritising new FTAs.

Paperwork and delays

Despite optimism over new trade deals, 40% of importers and 42% of exporters surveyed by HSBC reported that new trade rules following the end of the transition period have had a negative impact on their trade.

More than a quarter (26%) of those noted increased time spent on paperwork, while 15% have experienced delays in receiving goods.

These findings were echoed by a survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) reported in the Guardian yesterday. 

The survey of 470 firms found 49% of UK-based exporters had been struggling with difficulties resulting from new trade rules with the EU.

Tax credits

The BCC is seeking urgent support for companies suffering as a result of what the government has described as post-Brexit ‘teething problems’.

It is also asking the government to provide tax credits for companies incurring higher costs, backing a proposal from the Institute of Directors.

Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “For some firms these concerns are existential, and go well beyond mere ‘teething problems’. It should not be the case that companies simply have to give up on selling their goods and services into the EU.”