According to a report called The New Internationals from commercial insurer RSA, the UK’s SMEs are EU-dependent, with 82 per cent seeing European markets as important to their future growth. Some 52 per cent say it is very important whilst 24 per cent describe themselves as a European business.
More than half (56 per cent) of SMEs complain that uncertainty around Brexit is already holding back their growth, whilst 66 per cent are calling for greater clarity on the UK’s future role in Europe.
The report goes on to say that 88 per cent of SMEs believe that international growth is increasingly important. Similarly, four in five SMEs believe that accessing new markets is important to their business and a similar number claim that accessing new customer bases in emerging markets is critical.
David Swigciski, SME Director at RSA, comments: “The UK’s SMEs are stuck in the gravitational pull of the EU. Current Government export support isn’t working for our smaller businesses, who are struggling to trade beyond Europe. Not only are our SMEs missing out on growth markets, they face significant risk from uncertainty over a possible Brexit and our future relationship with Europe.
“SMEs are telling us that the perception of the UK’s small businesses as corner shop owners is outdated and damaging. We need a 21st century framework for the 21st century SME. Government policy needs to be updated to support our internationally-minded business community if SMEs are not to be caught between the rock of the BRIC wall and the hard place of Brexit uncertainty in their core EU markets.”
While 85 per cent of small business leaders believe SMEs are more globally-minded than ever before, the export potential of SMEs is bounded by the EU, with 72 per cent of UK SMEs struggling to export beyond EU borders.
Just over two-thirds (67 per cent) of SMEs consider North America their most important market opportunity, followed by Asia Pacific (61 per cent), the Middle East (59 per cent), South America (58 per cent) and Africa (54 per cent).
Link: The New Internationals