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SME exporters under tightening pressure

A survey of more than 2,300 UK SME exporters has revealed UK overseas trade continues to languish as the global economy heads into another difficult year. 

More SME exporters are continuing to report falling export sales (27%) than are reporting an increase (26%).  

Just over a third of SME exporters (36%) expect to see increased profitability in the next 12 months, while an almost equal number (35%) expect a decrease.    

The BCC’s quarterly Trade Confidence Outlook for Q4 2022 also showed the squeeze on SMEs exporters operating margins remains, with 64% expecting to raise their prices.   

Three main cost pressures continue to dominate as utilities, labour costs and raw materials are again the biggest concerns cited by exporters. 

In response to the findings, Anne White, Head of International Trade and Compliance at Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce said:

“Taking into account the global pandemic, changing trading relationships and ongoing supply chain issues, there is no doubt the economy is constantly changing.

“UK exporters are facing increased red tape and higher costs.  Sustained export growth should be powering our economic recovery – we are working hard with our members to increase exports, but more substantive measures from Government are needed now.

“Structural factors that are holding back our exporters need to be addressed.”

Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, William Bain said:  

“Last Autumn the World Trade Organisation forecast global trade growth of just 1% in 2023, down from 3% in 2022. This is creating huge headwinds for smaller UK firms battered by the pandemic, Brexit and energy price shocks. 

“China’s sudden full reopening may also create additional supply chain turbulence this year, should the Covid pandemic continue to impact health and economic output.  

“Against this background it could be sometime before the global shipping and trading systems returns to anything approaching normality. 

“The UK government cannot afford to sit idly by as we head into such uncertain trading conditions.  

“It must throw a lifeline to our struggling exporters who are desperately trying to keep their heads above water. 

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Sarah Irving

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