'Exporter SMEs far outperforming those with only domestic customers' - report

Small firms in Northern Ireland which export far outperform those which don't, new research says
Gary McDonald Business Editor

SMALL firms in Northern Ireland are growing at a faster rate than Scotland and Wales, but can do better if they were more export-focussed, a new report says.

Research by Censuswide for export credit agency UK Export Finance (UKEF) found that SMEs in the north are growing at a rate of 17 per cent each year compared to 15 per cent in Wales and 13 per cent in Scotland.

And firms which export far outperform those which don't (those with purely domestic customers reported annual growth of 8.4 per cent over the last five years whereas this increased to 15.2 per cent for those that export).

In Northern Ireland, specific financial barriers to export include concerns about cash flow or lack of working capital (cited by 22 per cent), the length of time it takes to be paid (28 per cent), the risk of not being paid by a foreign buyer (28 per cent) and a lack of information about foreign markets (18 per cent).

When considering export, 85 per cent of SMEs here say they would find a service that lends capital to international exporters while they await payment, and insures them if their customers do not pay, to be useful or very useful.

British international trade secretary Liz Truss said: “Finance is a key barrier coming between SMEs and their export potential. If small businesses were to export more, Britain would see even more stronger economic growth.”

A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that 13 per cent of all SMEs across the UK have turned to exporting due to saturation in their own and EU markets, and they are exporting to Canada, South Africa, US and China at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world.

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