British companies looking to export are opting for fast-growing economies outside the European Union and “side-stepping” the debate on an “in/out” referendum.
A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that a growing number of small and medium-sized businesses are focused on growing economies such as Brazil and parts of Asia for future exports.
“There is a lot of enthusiasm for new markets,” said John Longworth, BCC director general. “And there’s been a shift moving from EU countries towards new markets, as well as a growing number of businesses who’ve never exported side-stepping Europe altogether and looking further afield.”
The survey of almost 4,700 BCC member companies found that while the EU remains the most popular market, locations such as Asia, Central and South America and Africa are becoming increasingly popular. The United Arab Emirates, Poland, China and India are the most popular growth markets among current exporters.
Interestingly, some 32pc of businesses surveyed would consider exporting to Brazil in the next five years, in addition to the 20pc of businesses that are currently exporting there.
While the question of whether businesses wanted to be in or out of the EU was covered in a recent BCC survey – almost 50pc wanted a renegotiation of the existing terms – Mr Longworth pointed out that the UK has a large trade deficit with the EU compared with a surplus with the rest of the world.
“We’ve got a strong negotiation position [in Europe],” he said.
Mr Longworth said the BCC is backing the Government’s plan to open up a series of UK chambers in overseas countries to help British exporters on the ground.