Are European SMEs missing out on export openings?

Small businesses across Europe could be missing out on a number of export opportunities, according to new research covering seven countries.


A UPS survey of more than 8,000 SMEs discovered that the majority of work is carried out on a domestic basis, with few looking to markets that are further afield.


According to the European SME Exporting Insights study, this will require many of the smaller businesses to shake off concerns that have so far prevented them from doing so.


They exhibited concerns over goods being lost or damaged in transit and suggested a lack of information concerning regulations was also holding them back.


Provided they have significant levels of European trade, many SMEs will be able to cope without additional exports but it still means they could be missing out on an opportunity.


Is your business missing out?


The additional finances that could come as a result of this exporting could potentially protect the bottom line of a business.


For UK SMEs, the improving state of the economy provides plenty of opportunities to recover from the dark days of the financial crisis.


However, risks still remain and businesses with concerns should consider business turnaround or seek insolvency advice to reduce the risks.


The survey did report that SMEs from the UK, alongside those from Belgium and the Netherlands, are the most advanced exporters in developing links beyond the EU.


British SMEs are also more optimistic than their European counterparts about prospects for the coming year, with 40% planning to increase exports.


Despite this, potential risks are still seen as a concern – with costs, administrative worries and export regulations seen as major barriers to exporting to the US.


Micro businesses felt they had the most to lose, presumably as a result of having lower levels of finance than those firms above them in the food chain.


The TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) could potentially increase openings for exports between Europe and the US, but only a fifth of SMEs were aware of it.


In the long-term therefore, gaining an understanding of what rules and regulations apply could be an essential part of ensuring SMEs are fully prepared to take advantage.


By Phil Smith


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