SME confidence remains muted, but exports continue to rise and great international trade opportunities are still out there according to new DHL/BCC Trade Confidence Index…
Whatever spin you put on it, it’s churlish to deny the impact that international and domestic economic turbulence has had on UK exporters. Businesses are undoubtedly operating in challenging circumstances with a host of factors, ranging from reduced consumer activity to the Eurozone debt crisis, conspiring to impact on business confidence.
This uncertainty is reflected in the results of the second quarterly DHL/BCC Trade Confidence Index released today. Designed to measure the UK’s exporting health, the TCI gives a truly comprehensive account of the UK’s internationally trading business community. Over 1022 exporters around the UK were surveyed between 29 August and 21st September 2011.
While many exporters said they thought profitability would increase over the next twelve months, confidence in increasing profitability fell slightly to 48% (down from 50%), with 24% saying it would worsen (compared with 22% last quarter). This uncertainty, particularly read in light of the deepening Eurozone debt crisis, explains an expectation amongst 19% of respondents that their workforces will shrink in the months ahead.
Nevertheless, despite difficult trading conditions, the report shows UK exports are continuing to grow at a steady pace, with Q3 2011 data showing a 3% increase on this time last year (3% higher than Q2). Times may be tough, but this growth suggests opportunities for successful international expansion are still out there – a fact anecdotally backed up by the number of success stories covered on this blog in recent months!
Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK and Ireland, emphasised the need for organisations like DHL, UKTI and the British Chambers of Commerce to continue to pull together to support small businesses: “We need to support those looking to target overseas markets, particularly SMEs, who are less able to ride the trends of the economic cycle. Now is the time for business to expand internationally; with our collective support we can help SMEs exploit the global opportunities open to them and, in turn, rebalance the country’s economy!”
Have your say! Let us know what you make of the latest Trade Confidence Index figures by leaving a comment below…