Brexit has not dampened UK’s international trade confidence, says HSBC report

UK companies are 'bullish' when it comes to exporting and are keen to exploit the weak pound, according to HSBC's report. Picture: HSBC
UK companies are 'bullish' when it comes to exporting and are keen to exploit the weak pound, according to HSBC's report. Picture: HSBC
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British businesses are confident about international trade prospects and are taking steps to prepare for Brexit, according to a report released today.

A study published by HSBC revealed the majority of UK companies were optimistic about future trading, capitalising on the pound’s recent weakness to drive up exports.

The survey revealed that 74 per cent of businesses in the UK have a positive outlook on international trade, which was driven by an expectation of global economic growth (27 per cent), consumer confidence (24 per cent) and buyer/supplier relationships (24 per cent).

The 17 per cent of participants who reported a negative outlook on international trade identified Brexit as their main concern, followed by exchange rates and tariffs.

HSBC surveyed a total of 500 UK companies, two-thirds of which are currently active international traders. Respondents identified Germany, France, and the US as their “top trading partners” and the “top destinations for growth” over the coming years.

Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking at HSBC UK, said businesses should identify new markets to continue growth. She said: “British exporters remain bullish on international trade prospects and are clearly capitalising on the cheaper pound and increased demand for their products around the world.

“While many UK companies are focusing on existing trade partners, we would encourage them to explore new markets to expand their businesses and find new growth opportunities.”

The UK findings form part of HSBC’s Navigator report, a survey of more than 8,500 companies around the globe, including 350 French businesses and 350 in Germany.

A comparison of the three countries shows that 83 per cent of UK businesses are prepared for Brexit, focusing on reviewing contracts and checking internal policies and procedure, compared to 79 per cent in France and 75 per cent in Germany.

UK companies are polarised on Brexit, as 40 per cent view it as a positive, 31 per cent as negative and 22 per cent predict it will have no impact.

Murphy added: “Businesses are adapting their operations to ensure they have resilient plans in place.

“During times of uncertainty it’s those businesses that prepare, adapt and look for new opportunities that are best placed to grow.”

Meanwhile, a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) study has indicated that UK private sector growth was steady in the three months to October, driven by healthy growth in the business and professional services sector, as well as distribution.

According to CBI’s report, the balance of firms reporting a rise in output held steady at +10 per cent, the same level as in the quarter to September.

The study said private sector activity is expected to continue to grow at a similar pace over the three months to January.