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Small business export prospects boosted by weak pound

SME exporters now have the strongest expectations for growth in approximately 30 years.

Export orders have been declining since 2014, however, small business exporters have recently been enjoying a so-called Brexit boost from the weak pound and have the strongest expectations for growth in approximately 30 years.

Business optimism has also risen for small and medium-sized manufacturers in the UK over the last quarter and their export prospects for the year ahead look promising according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)’s latest Quarterly SME trends survey.

The survey of 423 firms reported that the total number of orders was up slightly in the three months to October and output rose modestly.

It also stated that exports were flat in the quarter, however, this marked the first time that they had not fallen since mid-2014.

Key findings from the report show that:

Expected growth at its strongest levels since the data series began in 1988

25% of small and medium enterprises (SME) manufacturers said that they were more optimistic

30% said that their level of output was up

30% said that their total new orders were up

19% of SME manufacturers are employing more people than three months ago

CBI chief economist, Rain Newton-Smith commented:

"Smaller manufacturers are increasingly confident about their export prospects in the months ahead as they continue to reap benefits from the weaker pound.”

But the fall in sterling is, in turn,  having an adverse effect on costs at small and medium-sized businesses across the UK with 29% of firms reporting that the average unit costs had risen.

SME manufacturers have stated that their input costs have risen at the fastest pace since April 2013 and that this rise is expected to continue over the next three months.

“While investment intentions have improved, uncertainty among businesses remains high, and so the government must prioritise measures to ensure that firms keep investing ahead, like removing new plant and machinery spending from business rate calculations," said Newton-Smith.

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.


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