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Finance Challenges

Government campaign for businesses to export has had limited impact, says ICAEW

Recent ICAEW research asked businesses about their attitudes towards growth, investment, business advice, and exporting. Almost 70% of businesses (69%) said they had never exported and have no plans to start. Of those who were currently exporting (11%), nearly three quarters (73%) have been selling their goods or services internationally for over 10 years. This highlights the limited impact the ‘Business is Great’ campaign has had. Surprisingly, two thirds of businesses (66%) had not even heard of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). Of the minority who had, 87% say they do not currently use any of the services provided by this Government department.

The research showed that a third of UK businesses are not looking to grow within the next 12 months. Although 31% said they were seeking moderate growth, 34% of businesses responded by saying they have no plans to actively grow, or even planned to downsize their operations. In terms of financial growth, 65% of businesses said they were not planning to invest financially in their business over the next 12 months – a worrying sign for the immediate future of the UK economy.

Stephen Ibbotson, ICAEW Director of Business, said: “The research aligns with our Q3 BCM and Economic Forecast findings, which illustrated that business investment was down due to a lack of economic certainty. The Government’s export drive, originating back in 2010, has had very little impact on the export activity of UK businesses. It is clear that Brexit is not to blame for UK businesses having no ambitions to explore the international markets and it is the responsibility of key policy makers to encourage the UK to be a more export-driven economy following its impending withdrawal from the EU. Initiatives such as export vouchers would help businesses to kick-start their ambition to grow globally.”

For advice on exporting, please visit the ICAEW Business Advice Service (BAS)


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