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What's stopping UK SMEs from exporting?

Logistics, language barriers and a lack of Government support are preventing small businesses in the UK from taking full advantage of exporting opportunities.

New research from eBay has found that 27% of SMEs say delivery and logistical challenges put them off exporting, and for 13% language barriers are a problem. In addition, 63% of business owners say they want more Government support.

However, the poll of 400 eBay traders conducted by YouGov also found that 52% of SMEs see "lands of opportunity" rather than risk in new markets. And two-thirds of the firms polled say they are hoping that overseas sales will help them meet their growth targets.

eBay data on 200,000 small digital firms has found that the top five most popular destinations for British exports via eBay are the United States and Australia, followed by European countries like Germany, France and Italy. However, the survey found that businesses are avoiding an over-reliance on Europe as an exports hub; just 32% of small digital firms consider Europe to be a key market.

Kit Glover, eBay's Director of Professional Selling and Cross Border Trade, said: 

"We're seeing growing numbers of micro-multinational businesses emerging. These are agile businesses capable of selling to a global audience, without the infrastructure of a traditional exporter."

Lesley Batchelor, director general of the Institute of Export, said: 

"Many small businesses are often put off exporting by difficulties ranging from tariff codes to cultural issues and language barriers. But to realise the Government's ambitious target of £1 trillion exports by 2020, many more small and medium-sized businesses in Britain need to start selling their wares abroad. That's why we've set up Open to Export, a Government-backed scheme that aims to make the process as easy as possible for British entrepreneurs."

Electrical goods specialists Electrolve exports to 127 markets from its headquarters in Grimsby. Owner Oliver Margasson said: 

"With consumers around the world getting wealthier, and governments investing in better internet access, our international trade has grown to account for 60% of total sales."

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