One in four British exporters had yet to review their post-Brexit trading strategy, according to the latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds Bank, an improvement of 23% on a similar survey carried out by the bank six months earlier.
Of those exporters that have reviewed their trading strategy, 53% opted to focus more on opportunities within the UK, also a 23% increase when compared to the previous survey, meaning that an increasing number of British firms had been shunned by international markets to focus on domestic opportunities.
Despite this, British exporters remained largely buoyant about their 2018 trade prospects following a positive 2017 exporting performance.
Clive Higglesden, head of trade and supply chain product, Global Transaction Banking at Lloyds Bank, said, “The decision of a quarter of UK exporters still not to review their international trading strategy following the EU referendum is concerning. It is comforting to see this number decrease from what it was a year ago, but 25% is still disconcertingly high.”
“It is perhaps understandable that British firms are looking to limit their exposure to foreign markets and focus on what they know, as they believe this to be the less risky strategy. However, they need to be conscious that they will be more heavily impacted by UK business cycles and could be left heavily exposed to a downturn in the UK economy. Diversification into overseas markets can reduce exposure to these cycles and can, in fact, reduce a company's overall risk,” he added.
Results of the survey suggested that British exporters expected the biggest opportunities for international trade to come from the USA, China and Germany, similar to the current top three most popular trading partners of the USA, France and Germany.
Clive added, “Trading overseas can feel intimidating, but with the fall in the value of the pound making a lot of British exports more attractive overseas I'm certain that there are many opportunities for British exporters to prosper globally with the right support.”
Baroness Fairhead, minister of state for trade for trade and export promotion, said “There are strong reasons for the UK to be optimistic about exporting as the number of British goods and services sold around the world rose by 11.3% last year. But there is still more to go for – which is why the Department for International Trade is about to launch a new and ambitious Export Strategy to help British businesses unlock opportunities overseas.”
“With 90% of global growth expected to come from outside Europe, we will ensure that – with the right strategy and backing from government – more businesses of all sizes will look to markets around the world to grow their sales,” she added.