New Export Guide to Help SMEs as They Plan to Grow Globally

Small and Medium sized businesses (SMEs) are planning to increase exports by 5% in the year ahead, compared to the national average of 4.3%. 

The findings from the ICAEW/Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor come as a new guide from ICAEW and UK Export Finance aims to help businesses compete in the global race with advice on export finance.

Exports currently account for a third of UK GDP with primary markets being the US, Germany, Netherlands and France. The rebalancing of the economy has yet to happen and the UK still exports more to the Netherlands than to China, India and Russia combined.*

Exporting companies are more productive than non-exporters and SMEs are particularly ambitious about the next twelve months.

Clive Lewis, ICAEW Head of Enterprise, said: ‘For many new or prospective exporters, the cost of researching and exploring overseas markets is burdensome. SMEs may not recoup the benefits of such investments in the short term and will therefore be deterred from trading internationally. This guide will help them but we also want to see an export incentive from Government in the future.’

Over two-thirds of SMEs who do export (64%) did experience significant barriers when entering new overseas markets. Finance is a particular issue and Competing in the Global Race: A Guide to Trade Finance and Credit Insurance explains a number of subjects including letters of credit, project finance and most importantly making sure businesses get paid.

Clive Lewis added: ‘Exporting companies are more productive than non-exporters, with 85% of current exporters saying that exporting led to a ‘level of growth not otherwise possible’. Such businesses achieve stronger growth and are more profitable. With tools such as this guide we hope that more will join companies of all sizes will join this elite group.’

Angela Potter, Head of Product & Digital, Commercial and Private Bank from RBS, added: ‘International trade offers exciting opportunities for UK businesses, but it can also bring challenges. This is where banks can play a crucial role. A UK-focused bank with an extensive international footprint will be able to provide a complete service for payment and cash needs. This will ensure that exporting goes smoothly and SMEs especially to grow.’

A copy of the guide can be found at