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Many firms missing out on export opportunities

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Smaller firms are being urged to embrace the scope for business growth that is offered by exporting.

A new study, carried out by Kingston University and Barclays Business, found that a mere 2 per cent of UK firms have plans to begin exporting this year.

Of the thousand firms questioned in the research, 37 per cent of those that are already exporting are doing so only because they were approached by customers.

Only 28 per cent of exporting small firms have actually made overseas trade a part of their overall business strategy.

While almost one in ten managers have never even looked at trading abroad as a means of developing their businesses.

The amount of resources in time and effort was most frequently cited as the main reason why smaller firms shun exporting.

Other perceived obstacles were regulation compliance, understanding overseas markets, worries over payments and language barriers.

Steve Cooper, the managing director at Barclays Business, said: “An export boom in 2011 could present British SMEs with an enormous opportunity, yet it’s surprising to learn that so few who currently don’t export are planning to do so this year.”

Barclays added that firms should take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to trading abroad.