Rising exports boost UK economy

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 manufactured goods.

But how can this be achieved? The results are in:

•    80% would like to see the manufacturing sector incentivised;
•    62% want to see a loosening of the business tax regime;
•    57% want to keep sterling weaker than it has been historically.

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 months.

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."

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