FSB: 1 in 3 small businesses involved in overseas trade

Wednesday 8 February 2017

With the decision to trigger Article 50 being discussed by MPs and companies across the UK, managers are currently trying to identify how to change their business strategy following the future departure from the EU. 

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published its initial findings from a six-month programme focused on how businesses will be affected by moving out of the bloc. 

It found that one in three (32 per cent) small businesses are involved in overseas trade as an exporter or importer, while 92 per cent of exporting small firms and 85 per cent of importing small firms trade within the EU single market. 

Due to Brexit, 29 per cent of exporting small firms believe their level of exports will decline, whereas 20 per cent expect it to increase. What’s more, 21 per cent of small businesses employ non-UK EU citizens, with the majority of these already based in the UK and have the required rights to work here. 

Almost half (47 per cent) of small businesses employing EU citizens mainly rely on mid-skilled workers, including mechanics and care workers. As well as this, 21 per cent of companies primarily depend on lower-skilled staff. 

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “One in three FSB members trades overseas. Small business exports have been on the rise since the referendum with the lower value of the pound making UK goods and services more competitive. 

“We know that our members who export are more likely to survive, innovate and grow.”

Mr Cherry went on to say that, as Britain leaves the single market, any new deal must be designed to maintain the current simplicity of trade with the EU and not result in extra administrative or financial pressure.

He explained that the statistics show the need for ministers to protect and promote an easy trading landscape and ensure companies can gain access to the right talent at the correct time. 

Other areas that must be looked at include funding for business support, access to finance and a lighter-touch regulatory system promoting both growth and productivity. 

The departure from the EU is sure to result in widespread legislative changes, meaning it will be crucial for companies to hire experienced personnel with strong knowledge of the sector. 

For companies without the resources to hire full-time staff, freelance accountants can be especially beneficial and ensure that admin work is completed in accordance to the latest regulations. 

By Victoria McDonnell

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