By Daniel Hunter

Following the UKTI’s call to help more businesses to pursue international trade opportunities, Bibby Financial Services has found just 16 per cent of small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) are considering international trade to help boost their business.

Research conducted by the leading invoice finance provider during the third quarter of 2012, revealed the majority of the UK SME community does not plan to incorporate overseas trade into their growth plans for the next 12 months.

This is despite the Government’s rallying cry to the SME community to help drive the UK’s export-led recovery, with the Chancellor challenging companies to double exports to £1trillion by the end of the decade.

Instead of branching into foreign markets, business owners are placing a greater priority on training and staff development, as stated by 34 per cent of firms, or investing in developing their social media presence which is a priority for 29 per cent of business owners over the next year.

Simon Davies, head of international trade at Bibby Financial Services says the challenge for UKTI and the Government is in better understanding what steps need to be taken to encourage more firms to broaden their horizons into foreign markets.

On November 1 2012, Simon Davies appeared on the panel at the House of Lord’s small and medium-sized enterprises select committee to discuss the funding and export challenges facing UK SMEs.

“As highlighted at the select committee last month, smaller businesses are restricted by a combination of a lack of access to finance, a drawn out application process and insufficient support overcoming cultural, legal and language barriers when engaging in overseas trade," Mr Davies said.

“The Government must help build awareness of the different forms of alternative finance in an effort to ease the pressure placed on banks, and increase the speed at which businesses can obtain much needed funding support to grow.

“As an industry, asset based lenders are in a strong position to counterbalance the drop in bank lending and independent providers such as ourselves are able to offer businesses a unique international trade product offering, which we feel is superior to that provided by traditional lenders.

“This year we have provided businesses with £370million in funding and we will increase our support during the remainder of the year, which we hope will make a lasting difference to those businesses looking to grow and move forward in this difficult economic climate.”

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