International trade is set to be a key revenue generator for the
economy over the coming months, with nearly half of UK small
businesses predicting increased exports in Q2 of 2011. Here's the
latest research - and a round-up of some of the key business trends
affecting the future of UK plc.
Almost half (46%) of UK SMEs that import and export expect
overseas demand for their products to grow over the next three
months, according to new research from DHL Express. These figures
haven't been plucked from thin air: data from ONS Trade in Goods
and Services shows that in the past year exports grew by 11.5% and
imports grew by 11.7%.
Where's the cash coming from? Of those anticipating export growth,
22% expect to make big dollar from the US, 20% expect an influx of
euros from France, 19% gains from Germany and 9% are looking to
earn their crusts from China and Spain respectively.
Almost eight out of ten (76%) small businesses surveyed believe
that the resurgence of the manufacturing industry would stimulate
the economy. Not only that, four out of ten (42%) believe this
renaissance will actually come about, predicting that the
manufacturing sector will see growth in the next three months.
ONS Trade in Goods data supports these findings: latest stats
show that 75% of imports and 77% of exports in the past year were
But how can this be achieved? The results are in:
• 80% would like to see the manufacturing sector
• 62% want to see a loosening of the business tax
• 57% want to keep sterling weaker than it has been
A positive outlook for exports
When asked about their trading confidence, almost half of SMEs
(48%) said they were optimistic about trading conditions for the
next three months. Six out of ten (61%) said they expect sales
growth in 2011 and 55% anticipate profit growth. Five out of ten
(56%) also believe that the 2012 Olympics will create a greater
global demand for British goods.
Some of the data is particularly interesting: While China is
known to be a major exporter of goods to the UK, the survey
revealed China is a growing importer of UK SMEs products with 13%
identifying China as a key source of their export sales. Check out
Ling Valentine's new clothing business catering to
the Chinese market, for example. What's more one in ten
see the Chinese market as a key source of growth in the next three
The picture for imports
The picture for imports is also solid. In 2010 SMEs increased
imports by 31% and the same percentage (31%) expect to import more
over the next three months.
Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK and Ireland, comments: "The
international express market is recovering after a turbulent period
caused by the financial crisis; businesses altered their trading
patterns over the past few years to cut costs which had a direct
effect on shipments.
"It's extremely promising to see UK businesses are confident
about their future - more than half surveyed felt optimistic about
2011; and 56 % anticipate profit growth. Home grown businesses are
vital to the UK economy; and DHL Express provides them with the
vital link to the rest of the world."