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Exporters should think global

A survey of more than 4,500 businesses released today  by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows that the number of exporting firms continues to increase. The survey also shows that those who ‘think global’, either because they have previously worked abroad or they collaborate with international partners in business, are far more likely to export than those with little international experience.

Rebalancing the UK economy towards exports is vital for growth, so the British Chambers of Commerce is calling for more efforts from the government to place students and graduates in international business placement schemes, to encourage the employers of tomorrow to build their companies with a global perspective in mind.

Key findings from the survey:

·         Three of the main factors that encourage businesses to trade internationally among current and potential exporters are: collaboration with overseas partners, such as a joint venture (78%); previous work experience abroad (60%); and being part of an international business group (54%)

·         68% of non-exporters who express little ambition to do so have never lived abroad, compared to 57% of current exporters

·         Nearly one-third of current exporters surveyed (28%) have lived abroad for more than a year, compared to 19% of respondents who do not export and are unlikely to do so in the future

·         Four out of 10 potential exporters cite family ties as an influence on their decision to trade overseas

·         More than half of potential exporters (53%) see international links between their local communities and overseas communities as influential to their decision to trade abroad.

The BCC is calling for an international business placement scheme, which could help unemployed graduates undertake research in new markets. In addition, a Business Erasmus-style scheme would enable students to spend time abroad building global connections. As more than half of potential exporters see international links between domestic and overseas communities as crucial to their decision to export, the BCC welcomes the government’s ambition to develop the network of British Chambers and business groups overseas as a practical platform for exporters to access new markets.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“As the world becomes an increasingly open and interconnected market place, it is vital that companies ‘think global’ and develop a mindset that is naturally geared towards exporting and entering new markets. It is fascinating to see that nearly a third of businesspeople who trade overseas have lived or worked abroad for more than a year. International experience like this builds export skills, so we should look to encourage more people into international placement opportunities, as this would provide global connections to the exporters of tomorrow.

“We must secure Britain’s future as a leading exporter if we are to transform our economic recovery from good to great. To persuade potential and reluctant exporters to become dynamic, international traders, we must foster the global connections that are so valuable to those looking to export. Chambers of Commerce are in a unique position to build partnerships with business communities through our overseas Chambers, and to raise awareness of the export support available both at home and abroad. These sensible measures will enable firms to grow, take the leap, and help the UK win the ‘economic war’ the Prime Minister has so often spoken about.”