Overcoming the red tape challenge in international markets

International markets give UK businesses an excellent opportunity to find new sources of growth. However new research from the Santander Trade Barometer shows that while companies recognise the value of overseas expansion, bureaucracy is the biggest obstacle to success that they face.

Trade barometer

Indeed, 40% of businesses say that dealing with bureaucracy in international markets is a major challenge, while the same proportion expect post-Brexit regulatory changes to also pose problems.

These issues even outweigh the obstacles posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which 38% of firms say is a current barrier to international trade.

The Trade Barometer reveals details of the specific difficulties that businesses face when it comes to red tape linked to their international operations.

  • 50% of firms say dealing with export documentation, such as customs duties and certification requirements is their biggest issue.
  • 45% say local tax and employment legislation.
  • 43% identify product regulations in the target market.

At the end of the post-Brexit transition period there could be problems with changes in trading rules. Most businesses are concerned about the potential increased costs and delays of trading with European Union (EU) member states.

  • 70% of firms which are worried about post-Brexit red tape say this is an issue.
  • 55% foresee problems in obtaining regulatory approval for products.
  • 54% are concerned about new tariffs on both imports and exports.

Trade Barometer

Why not visit our latest Trade Barometer page to learn more about our research and how we provide unique insight into current business attitudes.

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The research findings also indicate that bureaucracy is the biggest challenge for UK businesses who operate in China (40%) and India (46%), as well as in regions such as the Middle East (40%).

Even when trading with our closest neighbours, the EU, a third of UK businesses (33%) say they face obstacles related to bureaucracy, the most commonly mentioned challenge when it comes to operating in the bloc.

What does this mean for businesses?

With so many businesses recognising the potential for international trade in terms of helping them recover from the impact of coronavirus and finding new sustainable sources of growth, it’s imperative that policymakers and partner organisations do all they can to reduce the burden of red tape. Indeed, more than a third (35%) of businesses which operate internationally already, or which plan to do so, say that the most valuable form of support they could receive relates to reducing their regulatory burden.

Often, international trade support from governments and banking partners focuses on aspects such as finance or trade credit insurance, but the Santander Trade Barometer shows that these issues are lower down the list of priorities for the majority of businesses. Access to finance for international operations is cited as an obstacle by just 10% of companies, for example.

To hear more, listen to our podcast where we are joined by, Richard Bartlett, Director, Export Unlocked.

How we can help

We can help businesses find new sales channels, routes to markets and connect buyers and sellers across markets - in both the UK and outside - through the Trade Club Alliance. We can also support in managing the complex legal, regulatory and compliance requirements due to our expertise, knowledge and partnerships with trade compliance experts.

It's anticipated that the number of customs declarations post-Brexit will increase annually by 200 million. Businesses that have only ever traded in Europe will now need to complete customs documentation for the first time. They will need help understanding the regulatory requirements such as rules of origin, third country rules, Incoterms and health certification.

Overcoming these regulatory challenges will be critical to the success of businesses trading internationally and having the right procedures in place will drive efficiency in the supply chain and free up valuable time to focus on new global opportunities. We work with international trade specialists who can provide guidance on how your business should be preparing and putting actions in place to overcome these regulatory challenges. Alongside this we can help with an introduction to logistics providers, who specialise in a specific sector or the global market which provides businesses with the best opportunity to grow. Our partners offer value add solutions, as well as driving efficiency across the supply chain. For example, one of our logistics partners offers a complimentary supply chain diagnostic, looking at every element of the supply chain and making recommendations on what efficiencies can be made across the supply chain, helping businesses save time, money or helping them grow their business.

For more information please contact: international@santander.co.uk

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