Posted by

Mike Spicer, Senior Policy Adviser

15 May 2012

 It is often claimed that growth of the UK’s export sector is held back by a focus on ‘traditional’ or ‘mature’ markets at the expense of larger and faster-growing ones - especially in Asia. Our survey confirms that the EU remains the most popular destination for UK exports and is also seen by many businesses as providing the greatest prospect for growth in the short term.

In our publication released today Exporting is Good for Britain but Market Barriers Stifle Opportunities (available for download below) we report  that just under half of Chamber exporters see the large and faster-growing ‘BRIC’ economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China as the best prospective markets for increasing business over the next twelve months. But there is a size-and-sector divide: large exporters that are part of an international group or supply chain and operating in the manufacturing and transport sectors are the most likely to perceive the BRICs as the best platform for growth. Micro and small businesses are much less likely to have penetrated these fast-growing markets, or see them as a route to future growth. And medium-sized businesses – often seen as the foundation of Germany’s export success – are less optimistic than large ones about future prospects in markets such as the BRICs, Asia and the Middle East.

Exporters perceive ‘external’ barriers to market entry and to increasing sales volumes to exist across all export destinations. Regulatory differences are the most commonly cited but language and cultural barriers also feature prominently. For some markets, like Africa and the Middle East, political risk is the major concern. These influence decisions about when and where to export. Worryingly, exporters to the BRICs are the most likely to encounter barriers that hold back sales.

To  support UK  business expansion in the fastest-growing markets, the Government must press for greater progress on free trade agreements via the EU; and ensure publicly-funded support for exporters is targeted and not piecemeal. Closer to home, the Single Market must be deepened so UK businesses can more comprehensively and seriously treat the EU as its home turf.