• Three quarters of exporters surveyed by BCC have traded internationally for more than five years, while new exporters (0-2 years exporting ) only account for 11% of exporting firms
  • The majority of exporters (64%) trade with six or more countries
  • BCC Director General, John Longworth: “Business and government can work together to help more companies enter the export game.”

Ahead of the latest ONS trade statistics (Wednesday), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is calling for export and trade growth to be at the heart of the next government’s economic strategy – with a particular focus on working with business to help more companies enter the ‘export game’.

A BCC survey of more than 4,700 businesses found that new exporters (0-2 years) accounted for only 11% of exporting firms, while three quarters of exporters (75%) have traded internationally for more than five years. Further findings also show that once firms begin to export they rapidly expand into other markets, as almost two thirds (64%) of exporters trade with six or more countries.

The BCC has proposed a number of measures to assist first-time exporters, and to help existing exporters target new international markets:

  • Continue to develop a world-class, global business-to-business network of British Chambers and business groups – linking British firms with customers and opportunities for growth in the fastest-growing overseas markets.
  • Continue work to bring UK Export Finance up to par with the world’s best export finance agencies – ensuring UK businesses can access finance needed to seal deals in markets around the world.
  • Reform the UK’s passport and visa system – to allow overseas British business people and their foreign counterparts to conduct trade activity with ease, boosting Britain’s export performance.
  • Make foreign language learning compulsory from age seven to 16 – supporting more young people to ‘think global’, and acquire the knowledge and skills that are highly valued by Britain’s exporters.

Commenting John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Exporting is like a ‘eureka’ moment for many companies – once they’ve done it for the first time, new business opportunities, ideas and profit follow.

“However, our studies suggest that it is the usual export heroes who form the majority of our exporters, and who make the biggest contribution to Britain’s trade performance.

“This need not be the case. Business and government can and must work together to help more companies enter the export game, and ensure that the UK has a steady flow of firms keen to move beyond the domestic market for the first time.

“The key is to make it easier for companies to consider trading internationally, and make it a bigger part of our business culture. That’s why building a strong global British business-to-business network is so important, since it helps a company from Bradford, Bristol or Belfast land on its feet in Bogota, Bangkok or Beijing

“It will take a concerted campaign to achieve the ambitious export targets set by the Prime Minister. By working together, business and government can eliminate the UK’s stubborn trade deficit – and unlock future economic growth.”