RBS urges Britain's small businesses to push for growth by targeting export markets in Brazil, Mexico and Taiwan

posted on 20/09/2013 09:37:16 by Dan O'Sullivan

The RBS is trying to encourage SMEs to export outside of the EU

Making waves: Britain's SMEs are being encouraged to test the water in overseas markets

As George Osborne claims that the UK economy is turning a corner in the early stages of what will hopefully be a sustained recovery, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has suggested a way for SMEs to further improve the nation's prospects - increase their exports to certain markets.

Highlighting the relatively untapped potential of Brazil, Mexico and Taiwan in particular, the RBS report suggests that the setup of Britain's small businesses fits neatly with the import needs of various countries.

With trade structures closely aligned - 41% of Brazil's imports are products that UK SMEs have a proven track record of providing - the potential for smaller firms to take advantage of the conditions is clearly there.

Fighting the decline

It's important to note that the RBS has published its proposals at a time when the trade deficit has surged. In July, Office for National Statistics figures showed the gap between the value of imports and exports was £3.1 billion - up from £1.3 billion in June.

Britain is now importing far more than it ships out, and there was a notable 16% plunge in exports to nations outside the EU in the same period. This was the biggest monthly fall in more than four years, and demonstrates the need for businesses to focus their efforts on markets beyond the Continent.

If the recent improvements in the economy are to endure in the coming months, it appears SMEs will need to play a bigger role on the international stage in order to become less reliant on domestic activity at a time when importing is on the rise.

The British Chambers of Commerce has been pushing this message, too, arguing that the current trade deficit presents a potential obstacle to any form of sustainable recovery in the UK.

If the recent improvements in the economy are to endure in the coming months, it appears SMEs will need to play a bigger role on the international stage in order to become less reliant on domestic activity at a time when importing is on the rise.

Plan of action

Despite the obvious rewards that could result from increasing the presence of Britain's small businesses in global markets, the whole idea can be an overwhelming one for an entrepreneur who doesn't know where to start.

Not only is there the issue of trying to establish a customer base and brand awareness on the other side of the world, but there's also the logistics of shipping goods - not to mention trade tariffs and regulations.

Fortunately the need for a framework to support SMEs in their attempts to export has been on the agenda for a while now, and while calls for greater assistance continue, there are services available that can help small business owners who are looking to take the next step.

Getting on the ladder

UK Trade and Investment was established in order to provide such backing, and offers firms professional advice on how to tackle foreign markets - as well as grants that could help companies find the finance to get their foot in the door.

The organisation has suggested that Mexico presents a particularly lucrative option for SMEs to explore, emphasising the country's recent strong growth.

The service extends beyond advice, too, with help for offline and online businesses - as well as security measures that exporters can take to ensure the safety of their operations.

Whether the latest calls are enough to prompt more SMEs into action remains to be seen, but if small businesses are ready to take the step in exporting then looking outside traditional EU markets could be the place to start.

Dan O'Sullivan

Dan O’Sullivan is Make It Cheaper's Web Content Manager, which means much of his time is dedicated to ensuring we have plenty of online material to help business owners understand the energy, insurance and telecoms industries. With years of experience working alongside SMEs, Dan is committed to making life as easy as possible for smaller firms. You can email Dan at dan.osullivan@makeitcheaper.com

Read more articles by Dan O'Sullivan
Dan O'Sullivan on Google +