Exports will boost UK business profits but many global opportunities still untapped

Posted on 24 May 2021 by Tom Lane

Manufactured goods accounted for over half of UK total exports at the end of 2019 bringing in £687bn for UK plc, but many smaller companies are still missing out on the global expansion opportunities available to them, unsure of how to make those first tentative steps into new markets.

Any size of business making a product can export their goods and the expansion of e-commerce and the recent switch to virtual meetings as the ‘new normal’ brought about by  the Covid pandemic, has made it easier than ever to connect with new customers anywhere around the world. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and getting the initial research right and accessing the best on-the-ground advice is key to export success.

Exporting can be hugely rewarding, but the world of international trade can be a daunting place with confusing jargon and complex rules. Make UK’s Exporting guide aims to provide an introduction these rules and to demystify the jargon while at the same time delivering a step-by-step guide to exporting.

supply chain transparency - Logistics and transportation of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard at sunrise, logistic import export and transport industry background - image courtesy of Shutterstock
image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation said: “British manufacturers have always exported their high quality goods around the world and the new trade deals which are currently being negotiated will open up a host of new opportunities. But making sure our smaller innovative businesses are able to take advantage of these new opportunities will be vital if we are to fully maximise the potential trade benefits.

“Looking at your product and delving deep into the culture and processes within the markets looking to be explored is critical in making the right business decision for your particular company. Different countries have slightly different trading rules and some of those may preclude your particular product or make it unwise to spend time trying to enter that market. Getting the right advice from people on the ground can be the difference between phenomenal success and not quite getting it right.

“While every journey will be different, our Step-by-Step guide has advice which will help any business. However what we have heard from manufacturers time and time again is research, research and research again; much of the work starts long before a product leaves the factory gates to make exporting truly successful.”

Ian Tandy, Head of Trade for HSBC UK, said: “The UK is in the process of redefining its trade relationships with the world and as businesses look to build back from the pandemic there is now a huge opportunity for them to find new growth overseas.

“The high quality of ‘Brand Britain’ is recognised across the globe and that should provide small businesses with great confidence as they look to take their products overseas. Taking that first step can be daunting and this export guide will provide vital advice on the first actions they need to take.

“Through the power of our own network we can provide additional support by connecting businesses with experts in more than 60 markets who are ready to unlock a world of opportunity for manufacturers as they take their first step into exporting or look to grow into new markets.”

In addition to due diligence, spending time with potential customers and understanding their needs is equally important, with word of mouth recommendations the best advocate for new business expansion.