Now is the time for UK businesses to push exporting

Over and above the political posturing and apparently endless uncertainty, business leaders must make sense of the current tug-of-war between the UK and the EU and plot a course that protects revenues, employees, and even boasts performance. The question is how can this be done with an element of success, when the situation predicts both a bright future and recession.
Although there are many who feel that the UK is imposing an isolationist petty nationalism, there has actually never been a better time for British companies to grow and reduce their exposure to risk by exporting, according to export specialists, Ramsden International. The Brexit threat did little to dissuade the tens of thousands of companies which were exploiting overseas markets in the run-up to the referendum two years ago.
These firms continued their business successfully after the vote to leave the EU, and have no intention of allowing a “no deal” with the European Union to stop them from reaching the next stage of their evolution. They are not “sitting on their hands waiting” they are maximising a number of opportunities and favourable global trading conditions, says Sean Ramsden.
Sterling’s relentless 50-year slide from its $3 value in the 1960s accelerated after the referendum and still continues. This is of course great news for exporters, as they can sell their goods and services for less and increase margins, while returns on overseas investments mount.
The pound fell to its lowest level against the euro in almost a year at the end of August — before recovering marginally — after the Prime Minister refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit. Theresa May told reporters on her recent flight to South Africa that a no-deal Brexit “wouldn’t be the end of the world,” rebuffing warnings from the chancellor Philip Hammond against leaving the EU without a deal.
From export point of view, it has been good news that manufacturing has been bolstered by strong global growth. Manufacturers, which account for around 10 per cent of the British economy, enjoyed a strong period after the referendum in June 2016 triggered a big fall in sterling, boosting exporters and manufacturing output was still well above normal levels. A survey of 379 firms showed their volume of work had increased in the three months to August.
British products are seen as a gold standard internationally, especially in the fast-growing and rapidly emerging markets such as China, India and African territories — where the Prime Minister Theresa May made a visit recently with a business delegation for agreement on increase in trade — which have an insatiable demand for the Union Jack stamp. Despite threatened trade barriers, if buyers want what one is selling, a way will be found.
With that in mind, many excellent organisations help export professionals identify the best and easiest markets for their particular offer. They can enable one to explore these, cultivate local partnerships, look at relevant legislation and tax regimes and make introductions to governments and support agencies on the ground.
The Institute of Export and International Trade has supported British businesses of all types and sizes in bringing their goods and services to world markets for 83 years. They boast a range of internationally recognised qualifications and know-how that allows companies and their teams to prepare for export. It works closely with the Department for International Trade (DIT), which exists to help firms export and grow into global markets —including setting up operations abroad. And export business is booming.
The DIT recently revealed that overseas sales of British goods and services rose to a record high of £620.2bn in the year to March 2018, while non-EU countries remain the principle destination for UK services — the UK’s fastest growing export engine — as the trade deficit narrowed by nearly a quarter. But questions arise, what about the trade tariffs imposed by Donald Trump and what about Northern Ireland border friction if there is no deal between Britain and the EU?
In addition, there is also the matter of Britain having to negotiate with every member country of the World Trade Organisation, which could be a daunting task. But, exporters realise that international trade is not necessarily easy, and there will always be obstacles, tariffs, obdurate regimes, logistic hiccups, and cultural differences to overcome. Nevertheless, the rewards are huge for daring, dynamic companies determined to push hard for their products. (The author is our foreign correspondent based in the UK. He can be reached at andyjalil@aol.com)