Enhancing the ability of UK SMEs to export

TheCityUK’s launched its new report ‘Enhancing the ability of UK SMEs to export’ at the Conservative Party Conference. The research suggests that helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) fulfil their export potential could boost economic output and help solve the UK’s productivity puzzle. SMEs in the UK make up 99% of all businesses, yet the proportion that export is below the EU average, increasing this offers huge opportunity for the UK economy.

These exciting high growth medium-sized firms are the future of the UK economy. The evidence shows that firms which export are more productive than those that stick to their national market, so finding effective solutions to encourage these firms to sell into international markets should be a priority for government working with the private sector.

The foreword of the report was written by The Rt Hon Lord Maude of Horsham, Minister for Trade and Investment. Lord Maude said “Sustainable and secure long-term economic growth is a priority for this government and the success of UK companies in international markets is central to securing this growth. But there are still a lot of British companies who set their sights too near our shores and could go further into exciting opportunities overseas. This is particularly true of SMEs. I welcome the proposals set out in this report on some of the ways government might address challenges faced by businesses and the opportunity to highlight the ways in which we are driving forward our export ambitions.”

Better assistance for SMEs that aspire to be exporters or to become more sophisticated exporters is ultimately in their – and the UK’s – long term national interest, boosting productivity, creating jobs and delivering long-term economic growth.

Other proposals highlighted in the report include:    

  • Private sector innovation, driven by UK-developed financial technology, will play an ever greater role in improving the market and government should address legal, regulatory and tax constraints for SMEs, investors and supporting institutions to encourage use of newer forms of finance;
  • Create a well-constructed one-stop-shop gov.uk website that is properly accessible and user-friendly;
  • Encourage and maintain collaboration between suitable private sector institutions and bodies such as UKTI and UK Export Finance;
  • Fill in the gaps of the so called ‘funding escalator’, particularly for fast growing firms and actual and budding exporters;
  • Help SMEs better navigate the changing landscape for trade-related products;
  • Focus on potentially key funding markets – i.e. venture capital, mezzanine finance, private placements and SME securitisation;
  • Promote better information collection, dissemination and rating of firms and scoring.