Trade Barometer

Santander Trade Barometer

How is the business and economic climate affecting UK companies’ desire to trade?

The Santander Trade Barometer report provides unique insight into current business attitudes.

The Barometer can help shape how businesses and policymakers support the business community in the months and years ahead.

We analysed the responses of 1,000 businesses with the size and ambition to be engaged in international trade.

Our findings reveal increasing interest and confidence in new destinations for trade.

But there are also concerns that progress will be hampered by skills shortages, complex bureaucracy and the failure to spot and seize opportunities.

Download the 2017 report

Confident, aspirational and outward looking

71% of the UK’s businesses are confident of growth in the next 12 months. Those which intend to begin trading internationally in the next year are particularly confident (74%).

This reveals a strong link between plans for international trade and increased business confidence.

Trade Barometer Boat

Brexit concerns growing

While confidence of growth is strong, UK businesses are also mindful of an increasingly uncertain operating environment - and a number of external risks beyond their control.

The UK economic slowdown is the largest risk faced by companies; followed by Trump Presidency and Brexit, however there are variations across regions.

Two-thirds (66%) of UK businesses expect Brexit to negatively impact their business in the next 12 months – up 9% since April. This may reflect the lack of political clarity following the General Election, and perceived uncertainty in negotiations with the EU.

Management challenges facing businesses

UK businesses, as a whole, are planning considerable investment to support growth ambitions with 86% expecting to hire new staff in the coming year (this goes up to 92% for those businesses planning to start trading internationally), and over two-thirds are planning product development or to buy new equipment.

Businesses not currently trading internationally note difficulties in securing reliable foreign representation to support sales (77%), identifying the opportunities available (77%), and contacting potential new customers (70%), alongside the need to focus on building a strong UK domestic base (86%), as barriers to trading internationally.

The challenges of operating internationally vary by sector and region.

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