By Max Clarke

A surge in international trade will fuel the UK economy over the coming months, research from DHL express has revealed.

Half of UK small businesses expect their exports to grow whilst just under half at least expect sales to remain constant. DHL’s figures are consistent with Office for National Statistics’ data, which showed export growth had led to a narrowing of the UK’s trade deficit.

While the insights from businesses revealed an overall positive outlook for UK plc internationally, seven out of ten believe that keeping interest rates at half a per cent is key to economic growth.

Of those anticipating export growth 22% expect this to come from the U.S.A., 20% expect this to come from France, 19% from Germany and 9% from China and Spain respectively. Almost eight out of ten small businesses believe that the resurgence of the manufacturing industry would stimulate the economy and 42% believe the manufacturing sector will see growth in the next three months. ONS Trade in Goods data supports these findings and shows that 75% of imports and 77% of exports in the past year were manufactured goods.

Discussing the positive figures is Phil Couchman, DHL Express’ CEO:

“The international express market is recovering after a turbulent period caused by the financial crisis; businesses altered their trading patterns over the past few years to cut costs which had a direct effect on shipments.

Despite the weak economic conditions, last year saw the amount of international shipments handled by DHL Express grow strongly. This is supported by ONS Trade in Goods and Services data which show that in the past year exports grew by 11.5% and imports grew by 11.7%.

It’s extremely promising to see UK businesses are confident about their future — more than half surveyed felt optimistic about 2011; and 56 % anticipate profit growth. Home grown businesses are vital to the UK economy; and DHL Express provides them with the vital link to the rest of the world.”