By Max Clarke

Managers of British SMEs highlight pressing need for the assistance identified in the Government’s Trade and Investment White Paper

Following the Government’s commitment to help small business export to new markets overseas, a new poll of decision-makers in 500 small and medium-sized businesses reveals that uncertainty around different regulatory systems, exchange rate fluctuations and onerous bureaucracy are the main concerns for SMEs who export or are looking to start exporting their goods and services.

The survey, commissioned by TheCityUK, the independent body promoting UK-wide financial and related professional services, revealed that 26% of small businesses see different regulatory, legal and political systems in overseas markets as a barrier to their progress. 23% are concerned about exchange rates, 22% about excessive red tape abroad and 17% by a lack of effective support in the UK. Other key concerns included cultural and language barriers (17%), lack of access to finance (16%) and inadequate information on markets and competition (15%).

The findings of TheCityUK’s poll resonate with this week’s Government’s White Paper “" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Trade and Investment for Growth” which pledged improved access to trade finance, insurance and advice for SMEs seeking to export to new markets. The Business Secretary Vince Cable positioned SME exports at the heart of the UK trading its way to growth while the Trade Minister Stephen Green said the export-credit agency would offer SMEs trade financing for the first time in almost 20 years, reducing a competitive disadvantage suffered by UK firms compared with European rivals.

Chris Cummings, CEO of TheCityUK, comments:”Our survey findings underline that the Trade and Investment White paper has come at a critical time for UK small business. Our economic recovery depends on SMEs accessing new markets and removing barriers to them fulfilling their potential to bring goods and services to a global customer base. Coupled with this week’s commitment by the financial services sector to increase available finance for SMEs, we welcome the Government’s various initiatives to support an export-led recovery, which will grow the 13 million UK jobs and considerable tax contribution that small business already sustains.”