Exporting: Opportunities for UK Exporters
Are you making the most of your company’s export potential and the support available for small businesses?
There is an abundance of opportunities for UK exporters – and plenty of support to help you take advantage of them.
The UK is a major trading nation, able to capitalise on the single market through the European Union (EU), as well as being ‘socially close’ in terms of culture and language to a number of major international markets – including the US.
Many UK firms begin exporting by entering established markets such as these. The EU, with its open borders and shared import/export procedures, provides UK companies with unrestricted access to more than 500 million consumers, while the US continues to be the UK’s number-one export market, offering opportunities across a wide range of sectors.
UK exporters are also increasingly embracing the myriad opportunities offered by the world’s emerging economies – many of which are experiencing rapid rates of growth. Such high-growth markets include the ‘BRICs’ (Brazil, Russia, India and China), whose dynamic economies will provide a wealth of prospects for UK firms in the coming decades.
In addition to the BRICs, there are other fast-growing markets with great potential, such as the so-called CIVETS (Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa). These often smaller markets have much to offer, and UKTI International Trade Advisers (ITAs) are well placed to guide exporters on how to select the best territory to target.
Growth in such markets is driven by rapidly rising populations and GDP levels. Research has shown that the middle classes in China and India, for example, are set to increase household expenditure fourfold over the next 20 years. The Chinese middle class is forecast to grow from 172 million to 314 million in the next five years – more than the entire population of the US.
These rapid growth rates, combined with progress in infrastructure, communication networks and global co-operation, are making doing business in high-growth markets increasingly commonplace for UK exporters. For example, since 2002, the number of UK companies exporting to China and India in the construction and IT sectors has increased by over 100 per cent.
You don’t have to be an experienced exporter to enter a high-growth market. Two in five of the smallest exporters (with fewer than 10 employees) already do business in at least one high-growth market.
As well as working with specific geographic markets, there are also huge opportunities for UK companies in aid-funded business – that is, the contracts awarded by multilateral agencies such as the UN and World
Bank to support projects in the developing world. Much of the implementation of these aid-funded projects is contracted out to the private sector, representing significant business opportunities for consultants, works contractors and suppliers of goods and services.
Every year, multilateral agencies spend some USD60 billion on everything from tents to telecommunications. The UK currently gains between 4 and 17 per cent of this aid-funded business, with the most sought after expertise being in the healthcare, construction, consultancy, ICT, environmental and transport sectors.
Export Case Study – Kat Maconie
Exports have been a key way for British footwear designer Kat Maconie to build her business. Having received support from UK Trade & Investment, her label can now be found in leading fashion stores across the world, including Brazil, Europe, Japan and the US.
“I knew I’d have to produce large quantities of shoes early on to get a decent price point,” says Maconie. “I had to grow the business quickly and my best chance of doing this was to look beyond the UK.”
“UKTI’s support has been crucial. The international trade adviser really understood what I was trying to achieve and had a very good insight into the nature of my business.”
“The UKTI-organised seminars were really helpful, while the support I had in meeting the costs of travelling to new markets was invaluable – I would not have been able to fund such visits on my own.”
In association with UKTI – Export for Growth