Chambers chief calls for a return to the trading spirit
David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, was speaking after a survey of 500 manufacturers showed 27 per cent did not export at all.
Half of those not exporting said there was enough business in the UK for their needs, while almost one in four did not believe they had a suitable product to sell overseas.
Frost urged the government to improve support for trade. He said: "British exports haven't grown as predicted, despite the competitive valuation of sterling.
"Businesses must look for export opportunities for their products - especially in high-growth developing markets."
His comments came as the CBI downgraded its 2011 GDP growth forecast to 1.8 per cent from 2 per cent previously.