Nicole Howarth - Managing Director, Global Freight
The UK is missing out on growth through exports with the vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses failing to take advantage of markets overseas, according to a Shropshire international trade expert.
While SMEs account for over 99 per cent of all UK businesses and 60 per cent of private sector employment, they account for only 33 per cent of total goods exports - a gap which Nicole Howarth says needs to be addressed.
Nicole, managing director of Telford-based Global Freight, was commenting on the new Enhancing the ability of UK SMEs to Export report, which said the UK economy could see a significant boost if more smaller companies traded internationally.
The report, from think tank TheCityUK, identifies the substantial benefits to be gained by budding exporters from innovations in technology, market-based finance solutions and a greater awareness of government support schemes.
Nicole said: 'The national business base very much effects our regional picture here in Shropshire, where more than 96 per cent of our companies are SMEs. If UK Plc is missing out on economic growth through exports, then so is our regional economy.
'Many of our customers are small businesses, some of them were micro-businesses which have grown to become bigger enterprises, directly through the launch of international trade programmes.
'The report contains a number of recommendations to increase the number of firms exporting - the most important of these is greater awareness of the support on offer for businesses looking to start or expand the trade they do overseas.
'These businesses need not just greater awareness of market opportunities abroad, but real guidance and advice on red tape, paperwork and logistics. Many companies see these as a barrier to them starting to export, but with the right support, the hurdles disappear. '
TheCityUK proposes that private sector innovation, driven by UK-developed financial technology, will play an ever greater role in improving the market and says legal, regulatory and tax constraints for SMEs should be addressed.