Posted by

Kamala Mackinnon, Campaigns Adviser

15 Jun 2012

This week BCC published further results from our international trade survey of 8,073 businesses.  The results show that a quarter of current and previous exporters and those that are considering doing so believe that UK regulations are a barrier to exporting. International regulation also stifles export growth – one in three of those currently exporting, those that have previously exported and those that are considering doing so, suggest that overseas regulations present a barrier to trading globally.

The Government has acknowledged red tape as a key business issue and there have been some positive deregulatory developments in recent years which should be commended. Business welcomes the Government’s rhetoric on reducing the regulatory burden placed on companies, however more needs to be done if we are to see a reduction in the complexity and quantity of existing burdens on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Given the uncertain global climate and challenging environment in which UK companies are currently operating, it is essential that regulatory policies are effectively scrutinised.

 According to the World Economic Forum, the UK ranks 83rd out of 142 countries in terms of the compliance burden it places on business. Businesses find four areas in particular to be problematic: tax rates, access to finance, inefficient government bureaucracy and tax regulations.

The Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World also reports disturbing signs. The UK has dropped significantly in the freedom of regulation of credit, labour and business. Where the UK was once among the world leaders in economic freedom, it is now ranked in the middle category. The Fraser Index reports the worst results in administrative requirements and bureaucracy costs, both substantially increasing over the course of the past 5 to 10 years in the UK.

The Government must ensure that hard-working exporters don’t see their products held up by red tape here in the UK – before they even get goods to market. The current stock of UK regulations must be examined to ensure it does not place unnecessary burdens on exporters. The Government must also work with other countries to reduce any unnecessary international regulations that prevent UK firms entering global markets

UK businesses need stability and support from the Government to face the difficult and volatile conditions across the globe. Bold action is needed to deliver growth now more than ever, and part of this will be reducing the regulatory burden on businesses.